The Ugly Truth About Valentine’s Day

Jessenia Herrera, Writer

Chocolates, roses, and cliche acts of love. This is our modern view of Valentine’s Day. If you’re in a relationship, then you’re expecting something from your significant other. If you’re single, then you’re dreading this day. How did this so-called holiday of love come to be? Did someone randomly start this, or has Valentine’s Day been around for ages?


Valentine’s Day has not been around for ages. At least not in the way we celebrate it now. The real history of it is pretty surprising. Think of guts and gore, pain and sacrifice, betrayal and heartbreak. Now throw that all out because that’s not it either. Or at least some of it isn’t.


There has not been an exact validation on why Valentine’s Day came to be, but there are folklore that are rather interesting to hear. One of these folktales is about the Ancient Romans.

We go back in time to Ancient Rome. Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia from February 13th to the 15th. Men, who were under the influence of alcohol and naked, sacrificed a goat and a dog, then viciously whipped women with the hides of these animals they had killed. You read that correctly. Women were whipped with the hides of the slaned animals.


Poor women. The humiliation they must’ve faced to be publicly whipped in front of other men. They must have been victims of abuse. Wrong! Women actually voluntarily lined up for the men. They wanted to be whipped. Crazy, right? Who would willingly choose to be whipped? Not me that’s for sure, and so wouldn’t many others.


What drove these women to participate? Women believed that by being whipped, it made them fertile. But wait, there’s more. Following this, women were put into a lottery known as a matchmaking lottery. Their names were put into a hat and then passed around to the men. When the men chose their women, they were to spend the evening coupled up. Possibly more if the match was right.  


The Romans may also be the reason why Valentine’s Day got its name. Emperor Claudius II executed two men- both named Valentine- on February 14 in different times of history. The Catholic Church honored their martyrdom by the celebration of Valentine’s Day.  


Folktales always leave you thinking. Certainly after hearing this folklore, now my perspective on Valentine’s Day has definitely changed. Has yours?