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The Dark History Behind Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Apart from being a commercial success, Valentine’s Day conjures up images of Cupid, love, chocolate, hearts, and teddy bears. This day is all about receiving and showering others with love. Despite this global event of love and lovers, there is very little evidence of why it is linked with St. Valentine.

Commonly, Valentine’s Day is associated with St. Valentine with varying versions of the story. One version tells us of Valentine sending messages of love and peace from his jail cell. Another one links this to the day St. Valentine was killed during the third century AD by the Roman Emperor, Claudius II. Let’s dive deeper into the history of this holiday.

The dark history of Valentine’s Day

In fact, the Catholic Church identifies three saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. All three of these saints were martyred. One story goes that during the third century Emperor Claudius II banned marriage for young men as he thought that unmarried men made better soldiers compared to married ones with wives and children. Valentine, who served as a priest at the time, realized how unjust this decree was. So, he went against Claudius’ decision and kept on performing wedding ceremonies in secret. When the Roman Emperor discovered about Valentine’s actions, he was sentenced to death.

However, other legends claim that the true namesake of Valentine’s Day was Bishop St. Valentine of Terni, who was beheaded outside Rome by none other than Claudius II. This is not all! There are other versions that suggest St. Valentine tried to help some Christians escape from the Roman prisons and was punished with death for this valiant cause.

The day of love

However, the legend that resonates with the feeling of Valentine’s Day and the one most of us would love to be true is that the Saint himself fell in love with a young girl. And the first love message that he sent to her kicked off the whole tradition.

Since St. Valentine was imprisoned, the story goes that the girl used to visit him in jail. Although her identity is not revealed, it is said that the girl St. Valentine fell in love with was the jailer’s daughter. However, nobody knows why she was allowed to visit this prisoner in jail. But when we talk about love, that doesn’t seem to be an important point to dwell on.

Let’s just say she was the woman he loved. It just adds the right kind of feeling to this beautiful day – a day of love and loss. Although the modern version does not focus on the loss and the day is all about love. Among the many versions of this love story, this is the one that most would like to believe. It has all the ingredients of a love story – love, loss, and sacrifice that are the main ingredients of romance.

And even though the teddy bears, chocolate, red roses, and hearts may have been added to the list of must-haves for Valentine’s Day, it is still a lovely event to celebrate. So on Valentine’s Day do remember St. Valentine for giving us a reason to celebrate love and peace. Even if it is for one day, cherish this beautiful feeling and the people you love.


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