The evolution of Valentine’s Day practices

Nicole Surcel, Co-opinions editor

Each holiday celebrated across America unifies a group of individuals in honoring a common culture. While many holidays are based in religion and celebrated by those who adhere to a particular faith, there are also holidays that can be nationally observed by any who choose to.

Considered as both the most “loved” and begrudged festivity, Valentine’s Day is one such holiday and with it swiftly approaching, many of us have turned our focus to love, whether for ourselves, our friends and family, or for a significant other.

But, where exactly did this holiday come from?

While some believe that Valentine’s Day was first developed to commemorate the death of Saint Valentine, others claim that the Catholic Church attempted to “Christianize” the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia by establishing it in the middle of February, according to

Love greetings characteristic of Valentine’s Day first became popular as far back as the Middle Ages, with the oldest known valentine having come as a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415, to his imprisoned wife, according to Several monarchs have followed in Charles’ footsteps and sent valentines to lovers of their own, further passing along a tradition that would continue for many centuries to come.

I remember when I received my very first valentine in the second grade—a cutely-decorated pink and purple card with a take-apart cupcake eraser attached. The card itself and the chicken-scratch message that was written inside simply warmed my heart and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.

Nowadays, we are so quick to attribute Valentine’s Day to a casual dine-in at restaurants or rom-com movie marathons. When it comes to gifting, people never shy away from chocolates or flowers or both. And I couldn’t be any more grateful for that.

But what happened to the more sentimental stuff?

You know, like the poems, love letters, love songs or anything that truly comes from the heart and soul.

Sure, some may argue that they’d much rather have a box of chocolates to savor for a couple days than a “sentimental” item that they’d likely forget about or toss away after months have passed. Taking a look at past traditions, however, makes me wonder why they ceased to become a part of the “norm”.

For me, it’s the thought that counts and I would appreciate having something to keep as a memory over simply engaging in a daily activity. And I think it would serve many of us well to receive such warmth and affection through more meaningful practices, mirroring the traditions of the past and staying true to what Valentine’s Day stands for.

So, as days pass and the holiday nears, try seeking a way out of the ordinary to celebrate, for who knows how long it’s been since someone’s received a love poem?