Unveiling the Strange but True Story Behind Valentine’s Day

Unveiling the Strange but True Story Behind Valentine’s Day


While February 14th is often associated with hearts, roses, and romantic gestures, the origins of Valentine’s Day harbour a fascinating tale that transcends conventional notions of love and romance. Let’s embark on a journey through the curious history and traditions surrounding this globally celebrated holiday.

1. The Enigmatic Saint Valentine

The figure at the heart of Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine, is shrouded in mystery. Contrary to popular belief, there were not one but multiple individuals bearing the name Saint Valentine, with records indicating between 12 to 14 such saints. Among them, the Saint Valentine most closely associated with the holiday was martyred in Rome on February 14th, 269 AD, setting the stage for the commemoration of his eponymous day.

2. Chaucer’s Literary Influence

Geoffrey Chaucer, the renowned English mediaeval poet, holds a surprising connection to Valentine’s Day. In his work "Parlement of Foules," written in the late 14th century, Chaucer made the first written connection between love and Valentine’s Day. Although his motives for doing so remain speculative, Chaucer’s poetic licence paved the way for the romantic associations that would later define the holiday.

3. Evolution of Valentine’s Day Traditions

Following Chaucer’s literary portrayal, Valentine’s Day gradually evolved into a celebration of love and affection. Real-life lovers began exchanging love poems on February 14th, igniting a tradition that has persisted for over 500 years. Despite its ambiguous origins, the legacy of Valentine’s Day endures as a testament to the enduring power of love and affection.

4. Commercialization and Global Influence

Modern Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with commercialization, with industries such as stationery, chocolate, flowers, and jewellery capitalising on the holiday’s romantic associations. Despite cultural differences, Valentine’s Day transcends borders, with countries around the world embracing its traditions, albeit with unique twists.

5. Relics and Reverence

The relics associated with Saint Valentine, including purported skull fragments housed in churches such as Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome, serve as tangible reminders of the holiday’s historical roots. In an era characterised by pilgrimage and veneration of sacred objects, relics played a central role in religious practices, drawing believers from far and wide.

In Conclusion

Valentine’s Day may be steeped in romanticism and commercialism, but its origins are far more intricate and enigmatic. From the obscure figure of Saint Valentine to the literary musings of Geoffrey Chaucer, the holiday we celebrate today is a product of centuries-old traditions and cultural evolution. As we exchange tokens of affection and express our love on February 14th, let us remember the strange but true story behind Valentine’s Day—a tale that continues to captivate and intrigue us to this day.