Where is the “War on Valentine’s Day?” Today millions of lovers will celebrate Valentine’s Day and in a truly secular manner. Since the origins of Valentine’s Day are Christian, why isn’t there a push from the religious to bring the holiday back to its holy roots as they do during Christmas?
Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day began as a pagan holiday. Two were very popular on this day. The first was a celebration to honor Juno Fructifer, Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses as well as the goddess of marriage. The celebration was to promote fertility and life.
Another pagan holiday that ran from February 13-15 was the Feast of Lupercalia. The god of fertility, Faunus, was celebrated during this feast. The men would sacrifice goats, make whips out of the goat skin and whip the women with them. This somehow promoted fertility. I do not recommend trying this at home unless you are both consenting and into that sort of thing.
But Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine. There is dispute about which Saint it is named after (there were three), but the most common is a priest who went against a decree forbidding men in the military to marry (their girlfriends, not each other).
This priest secretly married men with their wives despite the decree and was eventually caught, imprisoned and executed. Prior to his death, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and slipped her a note. The note was signed, ‘From your Valentine.’
Like Christmas, the Catholic Church adopted the pagan holiday and put a Christian spin on it. In 469, emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Saint Valentine. The pagan celebrations would now be celebrated as Saint Valentine’s Day.
For centuries it is all about being holy but during the Renaissance of the 14th century the holiday returns to its roots of love and life rather than faith and martyrdom.
In 1969, the Catholic Church dropped Valentine’s day from its calendar. The holiday became a commercial success, third behind Christmas and Halloween.
Today despite its Christian name, Valentine’s Day is secular and pagan once again.
This is proof that one day the world may celebrate Christmas as a completely secular event. If Christians can let go of a holiday devoted to a romantic priest who was martyred, perhaps letting go of the birth of a crucified Jewish rabbi won’t be too much to ask either. Atheists must never relent. If atheists keep turning people from the Dark Side of Religion, future holidays won’t be tainted with the stink of holy men.