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Valentine's Day: 10 Facts About Its Dark Origin

February 03, 2016 - Posted to Education

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On The Origin Of St. Valentine's Day

Valentine's day, a day that is known for love. With all of the chocolates, teddy bears, and romance it is hard for some to believe that this late winter holiday has a dark history. From sacrificial feasts, to drunken fights to the death. These are just ten facts and pieces of history that tell you exactly why Valentines Day truly is one of the most bittersweet holidays in existence. The day of February 14th becomes an frequent topic of writing assignment. While many essays online covering Valentine's Day may be found, we suggest going deep into the history to reveal the origin and - trust us - there are many thought-provoking facts.

The Romans

Many believe that many of this holiday’s dark origins started with the Romans, who from February 13th to the 15th, celebrated the feast of upercalia. They would begin the celebration by sacrificing a goat and dog, and then they would whip the women with the skin of the animals that were slain. Women went through this ritual because they believed that it would bring them fertility.


A three-day festival lasting from the 13th through the 15th of February. During these three days, men and women would strip naked for sexual merriment, which included spanking women to increase their fertility and matchmaking sessions.


During this time, the Romans would have a matchmaking session in which the names of women were placed in a jar for men to pull out. The couples would then stay together for the three-day long festival, and some would stay together even longer if the match were right.

Origins of Valentine

It is believed that the Romans may be responsible for why we call this day Valentines day. On February 14th, Emperor Claudius the 2nd executed two young men by the name of Valentine, sometime in 300 A.D.

Expelling of the Pagan rituals

At some point, the Pope, Gelasius the first, messed with everything by combining St. Valentine's day with Lupercalia, in an attempt to expel the pagan rituals. This caused the festival to become much more theatrical than it had been.

St. Valentine

Although there is little information on the man, we do know that St. Valentine was executed sometime between 200 and 300 A.D for performing marriage rituals in secret. It is said that the emperor had made it illegal for soldiers to marry.

The first Valentine's Day Card

One would think that this would be a sweet or happy story, much like the very first Christmas cards. Charles, Duke of Orleans, is believed to have written the very first Valentines Day Card to his wife, Bonne of Armagnac. When he wrote the card, he had been trapped in the Tower of London. Unfortunately, Bonne did not live long enough to see her husband return as she passed away before his release.

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

During the late roaring 20’s, wars between gangs had become normal in the streets of Chicago. The horrible string of street violence reached an extremely bloody end inside a garage, located in Chicago’s Northern section on February 14th, 1929. In the garage, seven dead bodies were found. Each one of them riddled with bullet holes. It is believed that Al Capone was responsible for the deaths because they were associated with his enemy George “Bugs” Moran. That crime became known as the St. Valentine’s day massacre.

The Birds

In the 5th century, Lupercalia was deemed illegal due to not being Christian. This was when the day February 14th started to be associated with love. This is because February 14th marked the beginning of the birds mating season.

Exchange of cards and greetings

Today, Valentines day is celebrated in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Mexico, France, and Australia. It is believed that we started to exchange cards as early as the 17th century.

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