Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th February?
There have been several St Valentine’s throughout history, but the most likely one to be commemorated was a Roman priest who is purported to have conducted secret marriage ceremonies for soldiers. At the time soldiers were forbidden to marry because it was believed domestic bliss would reduce their efficiency as soldiers.
When he was found out, he was imprisoned. The story goes that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and on the eve of his death wrote her a letter signed “from your Valentine”.
However, Valentine’s Day wasn’t associated with romance until Chaucer’s time when he wrote about it being the day that birds chose their mates. February is early though for birds to begin mating, so why is February 14th the date chosen for Valentine’s Day?
One possibility is that it is the anniversary of St Valentine’s death. The other is that the date was chosen to coincide with a festival that was already taking place. The festival of Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival that took place between 13th-15th February to celebrate the coming of spring. As many Christian and pagan festivals were amalgamated by the Romans, this is a likely explanation.