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The not so commercial history of Valentine's Day


Valentine’s Day is a holiday that has been around for years, yet for the most part, people still do not know a lot about its origins.

What is now a day of candy hearts, chocolate, roses and love could possibly have some pretty bloody origins.

The specific origins of the holiday have never been successfully determined, but it is widely acknowledged it can be traced to ancient Roman times.

“I feel like people wonder about (the origins of Valentine’s Day), but they don’t really care enough to look it up,” said Grand Rapids sophomore Alyssa Dyer. “It’s all commercial now.”

According to a History.com article, a popular legend says Valentine was a priest who served Rome during the third century. When the emperor at the time outlawed marriage for young men, Valentine protested and continued to perform marriages in secret. Valentine was later put to death for opposing the emperor.

The article also states, according to another legend, that Valentine, while in prison, actually sent the first “valentine” to a girl he fell in love with who visited him in jail. He allegedly signed the note, “from your Valentine,” which is reportedly where the popular expression comes from.

In an NPR article called, “The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day,” it is stated that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb. 14 to cover up another ancient Roman pagan holiday called Lupercalia. The pope in the fifth century combined Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the paganism that surrounded the holiday.

Valentine’s Day eventually evolved into something much more romantic than its Roman origins.

According to the same NPR article, it gained popularity throughout Europe and Britain, and eventually made its way to the Americas. In 1913, Hallmark Cards began mass-producing valentines.

Today, the holiday is viewed by many as a celebration of consumerism, with the sale of cards and flowers, among other things, across the country.

Midland junior Danielle Cowles said while she feels Valentine’s Day is pretty commercial now, there is still nothing wrong with celebrating it.

“I never really think about the history, but I still celebrate it,” she said.

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