Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • For all its popularity, history doesn't give us any guarantees as to the origins of Valentine's Day.

  • But we do know it contains vestiges of the early Christian church in ancient Rome.

  • The association between mid-February and romance goes back to a pagan festival known as Lupercalia,

  • likely honoring either Lupa, the she-wolf of Rome, who suckled Romulus and Remus, or Faunus, their god of fertility.

  • The festivities began with an animal sacrifice.

  • Then, the ritualistic slapping of young women with strips of the animal's skin and blood to bestow fertility for the coming year.

  • In the 5th century, perhaps in an effort to christianize the pagan festival, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as Saint Valentine's Day.

  • As for the real Saint Valentine, there were reportedly several canonized by the Church.

  • Legend has it that one Saint Valentine, a defiant Roman priest, lived during the 3rd century A.D., under Emperor Claudius II.

  • Claudius was an ambitious ruler.

  • His battles required vast armies of men to abandon their young families for long periods of time, resulting in a military that was half-hearted and homesick.

  • So determined was Claudius to stop love from sapping the will of his armies, he banned marriages altogether.

  • Father Valentine thought the ban unjust and defied the Emperor, continuing to marry young lovers in secret.

  • The Emperor eventually caught on to the priest's actions, arrested him, and sentenced him to death.

  • It is believed that young couples he had secretly wed would visit his cell, passing him flowers and notes through the bars as symbols of their gratitude.

  • The story continues that the condemned Father Valentine fell in love with his jailer's daughter.

  • On February 14th, the day he was executed, it is said he passed the young girl a noteit was signed, "from your Valentine".

  • A tradition was born.

  • Cupid, the winged matchmaker, started out as the Roman god of love,

  • inspired the image of cherubs for Christians,

  • and is now a favorite of card makers and mass marketers.

  • Our modern Valentine's Day, removed from its religious and pagan past, has evolved into one of the most celebrated holidays on the calendar.

  • On average, Americans shower their loved ones with 180 million rosesred ones naturallyand almost 36 million heart-shaped boxes of candy.

  • Not to mention all those cards, dinners, and diamonds.

  • All told, the holiday brings in almost 14 billion dollars annually, giving retailers plenty to love as well.

  • But if you're worried that you can't afford to treat your loved one properly next Valentine's Day, take heart:

  • The poets were right; love is really all you need.

For all its popularity, history doesn't give us any guarantees as to the origins of Valentine's Day.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it