Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular and contested holidays in the United States. For some people, it’s unnecessary and annoying; for others, it’s the best day of the year; and for people like me, any excuse to eat chocolate is a worthy one.
Regardless of your feelings, Valentine’s Day is a modern staple with a history stretching back further than some more popular holidays. In this article, we’ll take a quick peek behind the curtain to learn more about the origins of Valentine’s Day, the history of some popular traditions, and how you can celebrate on Clapper.
Valentine’s Day Now ❤️🍫
Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the world on February 14th. It’s best known as a romantic holiday and gifts are often given between romantic partners. Overtime, though, it’s evolved to encompass familial and platonic relationships. Popular Valentine’s gifts are teddy bears or stuffed animals, chocolates and other sweet treats, Valentine’s cards, and flowers.
The Origins 🏩💋
As with most long-standing holidays, the origins are a little murky. And, as with a lot of holidays, the origin stories eventually merge together. And, as with a lot of modern things, the earliest origins date back to Rome.
The Romans and Lupercalia 🐐
From February 13th to 15th, Ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia to usher in the beginning of spring. Young men gathered and performed fertility rites – which apparently means sacrificing a goat (meant to symbolize fertility) and a dog (meant to symbolize purification) and whipping fields with the slain animal’s hides. But wait! It gets weirder.
These young men would gently slap (or whip, depending on your source) women with those same hides. This was thought to encourage fertility, though how I’m not sure. Then the women would drop their names into a “matchmaking lottery” and young men would draw a name so the two would be paired up for the fete. And maybe after if they really hit it off. Then, as the Romans were want to do, they partied.
An Abundance of Valentine’s 💌
Many Valentine’s Day origin stories start with Christians. Because there is a St. Valentine and his feast day is February 14th, though why he’s associated with this loving holiday remains a bit of a mystery.
In one story, Valentine was jailed in 270 CE by a Roman emperor. Valentine befriended and perhaps fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, by some accounts even healing her from blindness. Legend says he passed her a letter signed “from your Valentine” before he was martyred.
Another story of St. Valentine involves a Roman emperor again. The emperor had decided that single men made better soldiers than married men or fathers, and made it illegal for men to be married. St. Valentine married couples in secret in order to spare the men from war.
Love Birds? 🕊️
In the Middle Ages, the French and English believed that February 14th (St. Valentine’s Feast Day) was the first day of avian mating season. This belief furthered the idea that February 14th was made for romance.
Popular Traditions 💘👼
One cannot separate Valentine’s Day and cards – and for good reason. The earliest written Valentine’s Day greeting dates back to 1415, with a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (Another reminder that if he wanted to, he would!) Later, King Henry V hired a writer to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois. By the 1700s, valentine cards were being commercially printed in Europe and the UK. In the US, the first commercial cards were printed in the 1840s. Then, in 1913, a little company called Hallmark began mass producing Valentine’s cards, and the rest is history.
Candy hearts (or Sweethearts) also go hand-in-hand with Valentine’s Day. These classic candies date back to 1847 and 1860, when the Chase brothers began cutting wafer candies and printing witty messages on them. Sweethearts as we know them now began in 1901, and in 2018 the candies were sold to the Spangler Candy Company. 8 billion candy hearts are made each year.
Valentine’s Day’s mascot, Cupid, also has Roman origins. Cupid (the Roman god of love) and his Greek counterpart, Eros, shot arrows into the hearts of gods and humans to make them fall in love. He looks…just like you’d expect the god of love to, and has his own love story with the goddess, Psyche. At some point, Cupid morphed into the cherubic messenger we picture today.
Valentine’s Day On Clapper 🧸🧡
This year, you’ve got several ways to celebrate on Clapper! Send a little love to your favorite creators by using the hashtag #ClapperCrush. Find one of your Clapper crush’s videos, Clapback, and tell us why you’re crushing on them! We’ve also got a collection of special Livestream gifts to dole out a little extra love this holiday.
We also have two events to help you earn extra Diamonds from your Livestreams. Our Streams of LOVE is still happening, where you can earn up to a 30% bonus each time you go live! Plus, February is the start of our referral program. With Share to Earn, you can invite your friends to join Clapper with a special URL, and every time they earn on their Livestream, you’ll earn too! You can learn more about both in your Clapper Explore page.
Useful Links 💐
There’s a ton of articles about the history of Valentine’s Day, but my favorites were this NPR article about the darker origins of Valentine’s Day, these History Channel and Wikipedia articles, and this Encyclopedia Britannica entry. If you’re looking for gifts for your valentine, check out our recent article full of ideas!