How does lewd drunkenness, nudity, violence against women and Christian martyrdom equal the origins of a special day set aside for a very different celebration? Well it does prove that civilization changes things over time. And yes I am referring to St Valentines Day or more commonly known as Valentines Day.
The designation for the name of the day of love had it beginning when the Emperor Claudius had a man named Valentine executed for refusing to denounce Christianity.
In the fifth century Pope Gelasius I elevated Valentine to Sainthood and declared him a martyr for the faith. Up until the Pope invoked a serious set of changes, the day of love was quite different. There was a February pagan festival that occupied the space reserved for today’s Valentines Day.
It was the festival of Lupercalia. It was strange to say the least. For most, we can appreciate that the knowledge of science has debunked the reason for the celebration.
This was truly a drunken pagan spectacle. Men sacrificed goats and dogs and tore their hides into strips. In their lewd enthusiasm they struck young women with the hides to make them fertile. While this was going on the men were naked or in some cases partly naked.
Even more outrageous the women lined up for this treatment. Just prior to the beatings men drew names out of a jar and beat the woman who’s name they chose. If that isn’t strange enough the couples remained together until the festival ended and in many cases they remained together forever. You can see why the Pope might think this practice had to end.
So in the fifth century the Pope enacted St. Valentines Day to change the holiday into something more respectable than naked people beating each other with dog and goat skins.
Change was slow to convert the masses. For the first few years the drunkenness, the sacrificing of goats and dogs and beating women continued. The one marked change was that people wore cloths. Just imagine in February running around naked and drunk beating women with goat or dog skins. It took to the middle ages for Valentines Day to become a romantic gesture.
The writings of Shakespeare and Chaucer changed the tone. Those expressing love for each other gave up the dog and goat skin beatings for hand make decorative cards to express their feelings. In 1913 the Hallmark Card Co. began mass producing Valentine Cards.
Somehow chocolates, jewelry and Valentine Cards are a lot better than a drunken festival beating each other with goat hides. Of course anything would be better than that. Now you know how the day evolved Happy Valentines Day.