History of the Day of Love


Lillian Zieger

Junior Hannah Jessen is working at Teddy’s flower shops’ Valentine’s Day table.

Americans spend on average around $2.4 billion on candy alone during the season of Valentine’s day.
“Valentine’s Day is celebrated every February 14 as couples across the globe honor their spouses, partners, and sweethearts,” HISTORY, a channel focused on all things history, wrote.

Valentine’s day origin:
There is some trace that Valentine’s day originates from a Christian effort to replace a pagan fertility festival that has been dated as far back as the 6th century B.C.
“During the festival of Lupercalia, Roman priests would sacrifice goats and dogs and use their blood-soaked hides to slap women on the streets, as a fertility blessing,” HISTORY wrote.
History’s first valentine was written in perhaps one of the most unromantic places conceivable: a prison.
“Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote a love letter to his second wife at the age of 21 while captured at the Battle of Agincourt. As a prisoner for more than 20 years, he would never see his valentine’s reaction to the poem he penned to her in the early 15th century,” according to HISTORY.
During the Victorian Era, those who didn’t want the attention of certain suitors would anonymously send vinegar valentines.
“These cards [vinegar valentines], also called penny dreadfuls, were the antithesis of customary valentines, comically insulting and rejecting unwanted admirers. They were later used to target suffragettes in the late 19th and early 20th century,” according to HISTORY.

The term, wearing your heart on your sleeve, possibly originated in picking a valentine.
“Smithsonian reports that during the Middle Ages, men would draw the names of women who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. After choosing, the men wore the names on their sleeves to show their bond during the festivities,” according to HISTORY.
Every year on Valentine’s day, thousands of romantics send letters addressed to Verona, Italy to Juliet, the subject of the timeless romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.
“The city marks the location of the Shakespearean tale, and the letters that reach the city are dutifully answered by a team of volunteers from the Juliet Club. Each year, on Valentine’s Day, the club awards the “Cara Giulietta” (“Dear Juliet”) prize to the author of the most touching love letter,” Washington Post wrote.
Hundreds of years of traditions and customs have made it into the holiday that is observed today, such as sending chocolates, cards [valentines], teddy bears, roses, etc; and all of which is doused in red.
“The Valentine’s Day tradition of giving a box of candy was started in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury, a scion of a British chocolate manufacturing family,” HISTORY wrote.

Red: The color of love
Many consider the color red to symbolize love and passion, or on the flip side, it also is associated with anger and complicated emotions.
“In fact it [red] is more related to the excitement of falling in love and awakening passion for the other person. Red is also a color of Christmas, bringing joy, warmth, and safety,” TIME wrote.
Historical representations of the color red have ranged from courage and celebration to anger and danger.
“It’s a powerful color, evoking images of love and anger. The color red stimulates our bodies, increasing heart rate and blood flow. It generates strong feelings and enthusiasm, which is why we associate it with passion,” according to the Washington Post.

Candy: Chocolates and Sweethearts
The iconic chalky heart-shaped candies, that have been passed out every Valentine’s Day, started out as lozenges.
“Spangler Candy Co. has acquired the Sweethearts and Necco brands, both over 100 years old. Necco wafers date to 1847 when Oliver Chase, an English immigrant, invented the lozenge-cutting machine that produced the wafers. Sweethearts, created in 1901, are heart-shaped candies with messages such as Be Mine, Miss You, and Love Me,” according to FoodBuisnessNews.
“I don’t do much for Valentine’s day, I usually just get my friends and family some chocolate and a nice card to show them how much they mean to me, and how grateful I am for them,” junior Angelita Rodriguez said.

Cupid: The god of desire
Cupid is commonly known as a naked cherub launching arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers, but cupid traditionally started off as a Greek god.
“Before he was renamed Cupid, he was known to the ancient Greeks as Eros, the god of love. Eros, the son of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, would use two sets of arrows—one for love and another for hate—to play with the emotions of his targets,” HISTORY wrote.
For the Romans, the character of Cupid was always a cherubic little boy who followed his mother’s wishes to make people fall in love.
“Romans became obsessed with the Greek portrayal of Cupid. Centuries later, Renaissance painters took up this imagery and depicted the Cupid figure as a child. This is seen in 1602 with Caravaggio’s Cupid, which showed a young, nude boy with wings and a bow,” according to TIME

Flowers: Long-stemmed red roses
Another common gift to receive on Valentine’s day is red roses, in particular long-stemmed red roses.
“For centuries, flowers have symbolized fertility, love, marriage, and romance,” according to TIME.
The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses including the ancient Greeks and Romans that identified the rose with their goddesses of love, Aphrodite and Venus.
“I usually surprise my mom with a bouquet of roses and put it in a vase before she wakes up on Valentine’s day,” junior Chloe Williams said.

XO: Hugs and Kisses
Not just on Valentine’s is an “X” used to symbolize a kiss but it is very common for “X” and “O” to be used together to symbolize hugs and kisses: For example, XOXO.
“The use of “X” came to represent Christianity, or the cross, in the Middle Ages. During the same time, the symbol was used to sign off on documents. After marking with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. Also, when looking at the “X” it looks like two people kissing,” Washington Post wrote.
The “O” looks like two pairs of arms connecting for a hug, so that is why it is used in the combination of XOXO.
“Honestly, I don’t use XOXO very often anymore, but sometimes I will put it on a card. I used to say it more when it was more popular to use it,” Rodriguez said.

Everywhere has there own Valentine’s day:
Argentinians do not celebrate Valentine’s Day in February, but instead, they celebrate the week of sweetness, in July.
“It’s [the week of sweetness] the day when lovers exchange kisses and receive chocolates and other sweets. In the country, the day actually started as a commercial invention but later became Valentine’s traditions,” Trustworthy, a news site that is focused on explaining different topics, wrote.
While Valentine’s Day is most commonly associated with lovers and couples, that doesn’t mean singletons can’t celebrate the occasion too.
“On February 14, Finland celebrates Ystavanpaiva which is translated as ‘Friends Day’. Forget the romantic undertones – gifts and cards are given and received but by friends rather than lovers,” TIME wrote.
If any of these traditions sound amusing, then go to Teddy’s here at RHS and buy a rose for that special someone.