Shelly Li/ Portola High School 11th
February, wind becomes gentle. Fresh air and grassy field, the coming spring. Chocolate and flowers, pink bows and fancy wrapping paper are placed in the store. People plan their trips or surprises in order to give their partners the most unforgettable memories. With the arrival of February, we are all ready for receiving love, on 14th --- Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps you are still racking your brain to prepare a romantic gift, but do you really know the history and the little dark secrets behind Valentine’s Day?
The holiday was originated from an Ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which people celebrated the coming of spring that included the symbols of fertility and loyalty. During the late 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day and was celebrated as a day of romance.
Although the true story behind the festival remains a mystery, there were multiple versions of different saints with the name Valentine that was believed to have been martyred on February 14th. The most common one states that the death of a Roman priest named Valentine was caused by his defiance of emperor’s orders that to secretly hold marriage ceremony to the couples. However, the emperor Claudius II set new rule prohibiting young men in Rome from marrying or getting engaged because he believed it could lead to fearless soldiers. Another legend states that a prisoner wrote a love letter with the line “from your Valentine” to the daughter of jailer before he sent to death. Deriving the holiday from other allegories, people concluded that it was the Roman Emperor Claudius II who martyred two people with the name Valentine on the day February 14th, which led to Valentine’s Day.
More surprisingly, the history of Valentine’s day was not only associated with death and killing, but also with the story of bloody and dark. Back to the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, men sacrificed a goat and a dog to whip women by using animal hides, because they believed that this would make women fertile. During the brutal banquet, a matchmaking lottery was also part of the activities, in which the men randomly drew women’s names in the box and paired up from February 13th to 15th, or it could be longer.
Nonetheless, Valentine’s Day is full of happiness and joy nowadays. Cupid as the symbol of love and devotion as an important icon in the US, couples exchanged cards and chocolate since the 1800s. Until hundred years later, people are still carrying these romantic ideas. Varying loving actions are found in different cultures and traditions: ravishing presents, handmade chocolate, movie night, roses with surprises… the sweetest day in the year. Thanks for the changing times, and let’s not go back to Ancient Rome.
<Shelly Li/ Portola High School 11th