WebClick Tracer

THINK TALK: Valentine’s Day: How Did it Come About?    

mindaviews thinktalk

MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 12 February). “Love is not jealousy, ambition, fulfillment or becoming; Love is not plain desire or pleasure. When you love, everything will come right. Love has its own action. – J. Krishnamurti (1968)

Valentine’s Day (February 14) is among the most remembered dates in the Gregorian calendar, aside from New Year and Christmas. This is the day when lovers (and age doesn’t matter) express their affection with greetings usually accompanied by pricey gifts.

In some countries, this is even celebrated as a non-working holiday. But how did this event come about is quite vague at best.

One source suggested that this holiday had its origin from the Roman festival called Lupercalia held in mid-February. The festival which was associated with the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. However, at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I forbid the celebration of Lupercalia.

Most people did not stop the practice. It was said that they replaced it with Valentine’s Day whose date was fixed on the 14th of February. Valentine’s Day then was not celebrated as a “day of romance” until about the 14th century.

Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, modern Valentine’s Day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred in 270 CE by the Roman Emperor, Claudius Gothicus II. The priest was suspected of secretly solemnizing the marriage of some Roman soldiers which was strictly prohibited that time.

Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible that the two saints are actually one or same person. 

It should be noted, though, that the original meaning behind Valentine’s Day has faded over time. The LOVE that most people celebrate today is not the sobering, sacrificial love that those martyred Valentines of old had displayed. Couples rather choose to be proving of the romantic love they have with grand gestures, big gifts, and usually end the day in a dimly lighted and romantically decorated place to savor more of that passionate affection for each other.

Formal messages appeared in the mid-1500s and by the 1700s commercially printed cards with love messages were being used. Valentine cards usually depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts which has been thought to be the center of our emotions. Gradually, social media has taken over those printed cards. Nowadays, we seldom see those valentine, birthday, wedding cards displayed in big stores and malls. If ever, they are not as saleable as before.

In the Philippines, February 14 has become a favorite wedding anniversary. In fact, some mass weddings involving hundreds of couples are done on this date.

Today, Valentine’s Day has expanded to expressions of affections even among relatives and friends. In some schools, children exchange valentine gifts and handcrafted items on this day. It is not uncommon that we see schools having popularity contests for “King and Queen of Hearts” that culminate on the 14th of February.

I was already given a solicitation envelope for “2023 Hari at Reyna ng Puso.” I was tempted to ask for the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) stamp on the envelope but decided not to do so on second thought. Love should be unqualified.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the granduate school. He can be contacted at mauganmosaid6@gmail.com).

Your perspective matters! Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We welcome diverse viewpoints and encourage respectful discussions. Don't hesitate to share your ideas or engage with others.

Search MindaNews

Share this MindaNews story
Send us Feedback