The History of Valentine’s Day


“Valentine’s Day” by MSVG is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yelnur Abdushev and Daisy Koffler

If you can’t tell from the popping red gift isles in every store, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The U.S. spends up to 20 billion dollars on gifts, chocolate, and restaurants on Valentine’s day and 250 million roses are produced for it every year.  


Even though most people immediately associate Valentine’s Day with love, relationships, heart-shaped candies, and gifts, the origin of the holiday is mysterious to many of us.


There are multiple debates over how Valentine’s Day started. 


The most popular version believes the origin of Valentine’s Day dates back to the 3rd century. A Catholic priest in Rome, named Valentine, tried to combat the injustice brought by the Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. As a result, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice, continued to perform marriages in secret. When he was caught, the emperor ordered Valentine to be executed on the 14th of February.


According to another legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl, who visited him during his imprisonment. Before his death, it is supposed that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use in modern-day.


Regardless of its true origin, everyone has their own interpretation of the holiday today. Several WESS students shared what valentine’s day means to them.


“Valentine’s day is a day where people exhibit their love to people, especially their significant other (if you have someone…) but for me, it’s a day where I get to spend it with my friends and have sweets with my family. I celebrate by buying overpriced chocolate and goods and hanging out with my friends,” says sophomore Demetra George.


Similarly, Sophomore Clara Burns finds there is a lot to enjoy about the holiday without being in a relationship. 


Valentine’s Day means a day of love and chocolate for me. I do not spend it with a s/o but I do spend it with family and friends. To celebrate it, I give and receive gifts (typically candy),” she stated. 

 “To me, Valentine’s is a day to show your appreciation to everyone you love. A simple gesture is usually made,” Sophomore Jayda Castillo adds. “Every year my mom gets me a box of chocolate and I get her flowers as a way to show our love for each other.


Valentine’s Day is on February 14th all around the world, though most recognized in Europe and North America. Though COVID-19 has separated us from many of the people we love, I hope everyone will use the day to enjoy cards, chocolates, and flowers!