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Did Valentine’s Day Originate in Italy?

Many individuals celebrate Valentine’s Day across the world. But where did this holiday come from anyway? The history of Valentine’s Day is not all chocolates and roses. 


Valentine’s did not begin with St. Valentine as many believe, but years earlier. Valentine’s Day dates back to ancient Rome. Juno Februtis, the god of purification and fertility, was worshipped during this holiday. 

Moreover, ancient Romans also celebrated the feast of Lupercalia from February 13th to 15th. In the ancient Roman calendar, February is the last month of the year. Thus, the Feast of Lupercalia celebrated the arrival of Spring and the growth of crops. Men would sacrifice goats and dogs and would whip women with the hinds. 

Noel Lenski, a religious studies professor at Yale University, explained that young women would line up to be hit by men as they erroneously believed it would make them fertile, according to NBC

Furthermore, on the eve of Lupercalia, Roman women had their names drawn from urns by men. This ritual made them betrothed for one year at a minimum. Many of these betrothments became marriages. Thus, the history of Valentine’s day has roots in ancient Rome. 

Photo by Veit Hammer on Unsplash


Christians redefined and renamed this pagan holiday. 

During the third century A.D., Emperor Claudius II thought that single men were better soldiers, so he prohibited men from getting married if they were at a fighting age. However, a priest called Valentine did not believe in this and continued to marry individuals discreetly. The Emperor found out, and Valentine was killed. 

Thus, it was no longer called the feast of Lupercalia but was called San Valentino in dedication to a Roman martyr, Valentine, executed on February 14th.

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