It is February 14th, which means you're probably seeing a lot of people rushing around at the last minute for cards and gifts. How did this tradition even come about?, you may wonder. Why is everyone scrambling one day a year to prove their love for one another? What does it even mean to be someone's 'Valentine'?
In our quest for answers (Cupid was tight-lipped), we scoured the web for these five bizarre facts about the once-pagan and dark Valentine's Day, and how it became the cheery love-fest it is today.
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1. It started as a Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia
This festival was celebrated from Feb. 13-15, and it included an animal sacrifice and then slapping women with the animal’s skin and blood to ensure fertility for the year. This would definitely be a hard thing to sell to people today.
2. The Romans also played matchmaker at Lupercalia
It’s possible that this festival wasn’t so terrible for the women since they also had a matchmaking lottery where people would be randomly set up for the night. At least back then you knew you were going to have a Valentine. There was also a lot of booze involved so surely this lottery led to a lot of hook ups.
3. The person who the holiday is named after is unknown
There are a few possible answers to who is Valentine. One Christian cleric named Valentine was sentenced to death for performing marriage ceremonies when it was banned from Roman men by Claudius II. He believed that single men would be better fighters since they would less likely to be homesick. Claudius II also executed another man named Valentine, but there isn’t a lot known about him.
4. Our search for a ‘Valentine’ stems from a legendary romance
Once Valentine was caught for conducting these secret marriage ceremonies, he was imprisoned. While imprisoned it’s believed that he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. On February 14, the day he was executed, he wrote the young lady a love letter and signed it ‘from your Valentine’. How sweet!
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5. Shakespeare made Valentine’s Day popular
You can thank Shakespeare for not only giving you the romantic love story of Romeo and Juliet, but for the popularity of this holiday! The romantic writer brought the popularity of the holiday to Europe by mentioning it in his work. Soon afterwards people began exchanging paper cards to their Valentines.
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