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Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day: What is the True Significance Behind This Holiday?

"As-Salaam-Alaikum," the Arabic greeting meaning "Peace be unto you"

Happy Valentine’s Day: What is the True Significance Behind This Holiday?


With Valentine’s Day being less than 24-hours away, television commercials, advertisements and social media sources are filled with all types of last minute ideas to express your love to that special one. With so many Valentine’s cards, boxes of boxes of assorted chocolates and a variety of flowers to choose from, this holiday has become extremely commercialized and expensive.

Synonymously hiding under the premise of love and romance or lack thereof, Valentine’s Day encourages couples, lovers and love ones to put a value on the love they share between themselves or unintentionally makes others remember the love they have lost. Whether it someone you are longing for in your past, loving someone today, or someone you are waiting on in your future; Valentine’s Day has been promoted to us as the day we should celebrate the pure “essence” of love; but what is its historical significance?

The Significance of Valentine’s Days: By the Numbers

Nowadays, the significance of Valentine’s Day is that it is the first major consumer holiday of the year. Ana Serafin Smith, a National Retail Federation (NRF) staff writer, presented statistical data that stated that in 2016, 54.8% of Americans celebrated this romantic holiday. Also, Smith estimated that 19.7 billion dollars were spent to lavish our love ones with gifts (…that they probably really did not need or want). It was about a billion dollar increase from what Americans spent in 2015 which was 18.9 billion dollars.


In 2016, the average American spent about $146.84 on Valentine’s Day. The breakdown: $1.6 billion was spent on candy, $1.9 billion was spent on flowers, $12 billion was spent on greeting cards and $4.4 billion was spent on jewelry.

Smith’s publicized press release, illustrated NRF’s projected survey results which revealed that the average American consumer will spend about $136.57 this year with the estimated total of $18.2 billion being spent on Valentine’s Day; which is lower than last year. Let’s break it down again: $1 billion will be spent on greeting cards, $1.4 billion on gift cards/gift certificates, $1.7 billion on candy, $1.9 billion on clothing, $2 billion will be spent on flowers, $3.8 billion on an evening out, and with approximately $4.3 billion will be spent on jewelry alone on February 14.

The Significance of Valentine’s Day: The Legacy of Saint Valentine

The Catholic Church has canonized at least three different Saint Valentines and legend has it that they all died martyred saints. Some believe that Valentine’s Day began as a religious holiday to commemorate Saint Valentine.

Staff writers at History.com, the History Channel’s website, revealed that the most legendary Saint Valentine, a Roman priest during the third century who served under Emperor Claudius II, is credited with cultivating Valentine’s Day. Emperor Claudius II was convinced that single men were better soldiers than those who were married and with children. The Emperor passed a law making marriage illegal for all young men. Valentine recognized the unfairness of this law and defied the Emperor by continuing to marry the young couples in secret.

When Valentine’s defiance was realized by Emperor Claudius II, Valentine was jailed and promptly executed. In the 5th century to commemorate Valentine’s martyrdom, the Vatican christened February 14th as his feast day. This day was selected by the Catholic Church to honor as well as bless Saint Valentine’s life and legacy.

The Significance of Valentine’s Day: Its Origins as a Pagan Festival in February

While some have been made to believe that Valentine’s Day is rooted in the commemoration of Saint Valentine’s death, others have argued that the “Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia” indicated staff writers at History.com. The pagan holiday is “celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus,” reported staff writers at History.com.

History.com’s staff writers continued to report that the festival commenced when participants of the Roman priests order called Luperci would congregate at a holy cave. History.com conveyed that this cave was thought to be where the forefathers of Rome, Romulus and Remus, were raised as infants by a lupa or she-wolf. As part of the ceremony of the festival, the Roman priests would sacrifice a dog and a goat for different reasons. The dog was sacrificed for purification and the goat was sacrificed for fertility.

History.com’s staff writers explained that the priests “would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.” The women were welcoming to be tap with the goat hides because they were made to believe that they would be more fruitful in the upcoming year. As the day progressed, all the women in the city would submit their names in an urn so that the city’s single men would individually pull a name out and the two would be paired together for that year. According to legend, these pairing usually ended up in marriage.

The Significance of Valentine’s Day: As a Day of Love & Romance

According to staff writers at History.com, “Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day.” The intersection between Valentine’s Day and love came about during the Middle Ages. During this time, the sentiments of the French and the English that the date February 14 was associated with start of mating seasons for birds, “which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance,” clarified History.com’s staff writers.

So as you can see, the true spirit and history of Valentine’s Day is not rooted in spending money to buy lavish gifts for your loved ones, but rooted in Catholicism, Paganism and the mating rituals of birds. The mainstream spirit of Valentine’s Day has turned into a commercialized way of placing monetary values on an emotion that one is supposed to be able to give and/or receive freely. Think about it… what are you really celebrating?


~ejnosillA

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References:

History.com Staff. (2009). History of Valentine’s Day. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.

Smith, A. S. (2017). NRF says consumers will spend $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day [Press release]. Retrieved from https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/nrf-says-consumers-will-spend-182-billion-valentines-day. 

1 comment :

  1. I really like your post and your website. I was intrigued by what you wrote and it makes me want to find out more. great job!

    ReplyDelete

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