Venture through Valentine’s Day

Discussing the origins of Valentine’s Day

Creative Comons

A heart shaped box of chocolates is the most popular Valentine’s Day gift in California. 36 million boxes of chocolates are sold annually on Valentines Day within the US, according to

Fiona Kenny and Giovanna Franceschi

Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the globe. Participants attribute the sweets, hearts, and flowers that are shared between loved ones to St. Valentine of Rome — while dually incorporating elements from the Ancient Roman holiday Lupercalia — an agricultural festival attributed to the founders of Rome on Feb. 15.

There are many different narratives concerning who Valentine’s Day was named for. It may also have been named after a series of specific events within Ancient Roman history, according to Latin teacher David Jacobson. 

“It’s unclear precisely whom Valentine’s Day is named for — in the 3rd century CE, Emperor Cladius II executed two men, in different years — both on Feb. 14,” Jacobson said. “Some people believe that in the 5th century CE, Pope Gelasius may have combined the pagan ritual of Lupercalia with a Christian feast day, which then eventually became known as Valentine’s Day,”

St. Valentine was a bishop who resided in Rome during the 3rd century AD. During this time period, he aided persecuted christians, and for this he was killed on Feb. 14. Now, he is recognized as a martyr and celebrated on Valentine’s Day.

“I’ve heard many different stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day,” freshman Mallory Parent said. “But I also went to a catholic middle school — so we were taught and celebrated the story Saint Valentine,”

The holiday is now commemorated around the United States through grade school celebrations and dates. Grade school celebrations traditionally include the exchange of sweets and students wearing colorful clothes. 

“We always dressed up in Valentine’s Day colors — red, pink, and white — for the holiday in elementary school,” sophomore Annika Carpenter said. “I learned many different stories about the holiday’s origin story: Saint Valentine, Saint Vincent, Lupercalia, and how an author named Geoffrey Chaucer may have labeled the holiday first,”

The pagan holiday celebrated in Ancient Rome — Lupercalia — also may have contributed not only to the theme of Valentines Day, but dually the month of February.

“On February 15, Roman priests would sacrifice animals and have a feast for Lupercalia,” Jacobson said. “During the feasts, they would eat strips of meat called februa — this is why we call this month February.”