The holiday that we have all either come to love or hate, unsurprisingly, didn’t always revolve around cards and chocolates. The customs that we have all fallen into since we were kids, actually had very different origins than one would think.
Breaking down the holiday, there are actually many different facets that bring it all together. Various martyrdom stories are associated with different Valentine’s of the past. For the most part, the Catholic Church chose to honour them during the month of February, which then led to the naming of the annual celebration. Afterwards, it was all tied together with an ancient ritual celebrated by the Romans.
Lupercalia, the fertility festival, was a yearly celebration for the Romans in honour of the god of agriculture. According to myth, it was also a time to celebrate the Roman founders Romulus and Remus, who were both raised by a she-wolf. There were various aspects to the celebration, most of which, did not make the cut into the 21st century. One such practice involved cutting up animal hides into strips and dipping them into sacrificial blood. They were then slapped against the bodies of women, believing it would allow them to become more fertile for the year. Women would actually line the streets to have their turn as the progression passed through.
The fun part came towards the end, when singles throughout the city would pair off in honour of the festival through random selection via draw. Many times this resulted in successful marriages.
Today, the day is obviously celebrated a little differently, with no bloody whippings of animal hide required. People get to partake in the exchange of tokens of affections with their loved ones, and a plethora of money is spent trying to make that special someone in your life happy. After Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards to other people. Approximately 150 million cards are exchanged, and a total spending of $18.6 billion takes place every year!
So for those of you that will be single for this Valentine’s Day, don’t fret. In fact, relish in the fact that you’re not about to drop some mad cash on someone, just to say that you love them. Valentine’s Day can be a very exciting holiday when you have that significant other in your life, but remember, the day was originally for all the single people to hook up! So really, instead of being sad, what you should really spend the day doing is stripping apart goat hide and finding someone to smack it with…kidding.