Aw, it’s February 14th, and love is in the air. Well, for some, anyway. Despite its possibly shady beginnings, St. Valentine’s Day is big money in the western world. Much like Christmas, everyone is aware of it, making it a marketer’s delight. Their loved-up target audience is ready-made; they just need to compete against everyone else selling their romantic wares.
No one has a definitive answer to how Valentine’s Day began, and several theories exist.
The Dubious Beginnings of Valentines.
The ancient Romans had a fertility festival known as the Feast of Lupercalia, which ran from 13th-15th February. Men sacrificed a goat and a dog and skinned the carcasses. They then whipped women with the hides, believing it would make them fertile. The women used to line up for this, would you believe?
The men also drew a woman’s name from the jar and would couple up for the festival or longer if things went well. A slightly less sophisticated version of swiping right, but whatever floats your boat!
The Christian church allegedly placed a St. Valentine’s Day feast in the middle of the pagan festival to make it less pagan and more Christian.
There is also another theory from the ancient Romans that our day of love came from Emperor Claudius II executing two men, both named Valentine, on February 14th but in different years.
Which Valentine became the famous martyr is unknown, or perhaps it was both. One was a priest who defied the Emperor’s outlawing of the marriage of young men as he thought single men make for the better soldier. Valentine’s heartwarming defiance cost him his life when Claudius discovered his secret. Legend has it that while awaiting execution, Valentine wrote love letters to the jailer’s daughter signed “Your Valentine.’
The other Valentine was a bishop known as Saint Valentine of Terni.
A Capitalist’s Dream!
However it began, Valentine’s Day has grown throughout the ages. Even in the middle ages, people would say a Valentine’s greeting.
In the modern world, sending cards, flowers, and chocolates are common. It is also common to receive other presents and go out on a date, such as to a fancy restaurant or a weekend away. Much like Christmas, Valentine’s Day has capitalists rubbing their hands together in glee as the day is worth millions, if not billions, of pounds.
What began as something not quite so romantic and a very long time ago has become a tradition that businesses can shape and mould into profit, and romantics can affirm their love. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.