“Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s”

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Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

With apologies to Ophelia, February has long been known as the month of romance. It’s a month full of hearts, chocolates and flowers, but where did these traditions of measuring your love in amounts of chocolate originate?

The naming of this holiday is for the Christian martyr St. Valentine and he dates back to the 5th century. St. Valentine’s story starts with Emperor Claudius II of Rome who created a law outlawing marriage for young men. His reasoning was simple; unmarried men made better soldiers, rather than men with wives and children. Although many people disagreed with the emperor’s new decree, only one person actually rebelled, a saint named Valentine.

Saint Valentine began to marry young couples in secret. When he was eventually caught, he was sent to jail and, according to legend, fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, who began to visit him secretly. He wrote her letters, professing his love and at the end of every one he signed, ‘Love, your Valentine’, which is how the term came to be used at the end of our valentines today.

An even more ancient origin of St. Valentine’s Day is the Roman holiday Lupercalia. Lupercalia lasted from February 13 to 15 and was a pastoral festival to avert evil and spread health and fertility throughout the city. One part of the festival that was especially important was the ritual of blessing women who wished to conceive children. The executioners of this, called the Lupercali, would run through the city, holding goat-skin thongs dipped in animal blood, and strike or touch any women who stood in their path.

Every holiday has it’s specific colors, and St. Valentine’s Day’s is red. The color comes from red roses, which were the favorite flower of the Roman goddess of love, Venus.

Another symbol of Valentine’s day is Cupid, the son of Juno, whose job was to match-make couples. Juno gave her son this job because mankind had stopped reproducing and she needed mortals to keep getting married so she would have people to rule over and visit her temple.

Certainly, Valentine’s day does not have the same symbolism as it did in ancient times. It’s more about the spirit of showing someone you care, whether they’re your significant other or not.

“I think Valentines Day is a great day to show affection to the people and friends in your life that you love,” said junior Collin Smith.

Whether it’s being hit with goat skin, or Cupid’s arrow, Valentine’s Day is still a day to celebrate our relationships with one another by showing each other through simple action that we are loved.