Valentine’s Day: A Dark History

Valentines Day, the auspicious day of love and joy. For many it means flowers, gifts, and candy. For some it means a night by themselves eating chocolate and admiring the flowers after listening to Miley Cyrus’ new hit single on repeat.

Okay, just one more time.

But is Valentine’s Day even a real holiday? Is Cupid real?

Some scoff at its genuine as a traditional holiday and some feel that it is a capitalist ploy to spend money. In spite of skeptical opinions, this day of love has a dark origin story involving a rebellious priest, beheadings, and secret love. What could be more romantic than that?

The origin of this holiday for the expression of love really isn’t romantic at all—at least not in the traditional sense.

David Kithcart , 700 Club Features Director

Who was Saint Valentine?

Rumour has it that Saint Valentinus was a Roman Catholic priest during an intense time of religious persecution by the order of Emperor Claudius II.

Emperor Claudius declared marriage for young men to be against the law. He had felt that marriage made for a distraction for his soldiers and wanted them fearless for war.

In contempt of the Emperor’s edict, Saint Valentine performed secret marriages for young couples.

However, these secret ceremonies were eventually uncovered and Saint Valentine was brought before the Emperor’s court. He was sentenced to the death and was executed in three ways, including beheading.

“Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and—most importantly—romantic figure.”

History.com, History of Valentines Day

What about Cupid?

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst on Pexels.com

You’re probably wondering what a little cherub baby with wings has to do with this romantic holiday? I just assumed that it alluded to the idea that sometimes babies are a result of celebrating the holiday, which in some cases, that is the reality. However, the origins of this romantic figure ties into Greek Mythology. The legendary character of Eros/Aros, meaning love, is the son of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love & Mayhem.

Contrary to the baby human form we see today, Aros was a man. A handsome and powerful man, that seemed almost undefeatable. His good looks, charm and power could make anyone fall in love.

People were intimidated by this sexually powerful, controlling man, who could strike people into loving one other. But social status of women in Athens — the central city of Greek literature — was falling drastically.

Rachel Greenspan, Time.com

However, there was a catch with his power, he could only do what his mother, Aphrodite, desired. So he had a bit of a short leash at times. He could not release chaos upon others without his mother’s permission. In fact, his weakness is being infantalised. (Ahhh, that explains it!).


Despite the local lonely skeptic’s rant, Valentine’s Day is a significant day in history, across the globe for many generations. While it isn’t exactly the most romantic, in a traditional sense, the sacrafice of the saint in the name of love is respectable. February is a whole month that is devoted to the celebration of spring, renewal, love and romance. On a global stands as well as spiritual and religious. It is more than embarassing Tinder Dates, flowers, and chocolates. It’s a story of a history of human love.

Related Media

Related Sources

Greenspan, Rachel E. “Here’s Cupid’s History, and Why He’s Part of Valentine’s Day.” Time, Time, 13 Feb. 2019, https://time.com/5516579/history-cupid-valentines-day/.

Hanes , Elizabeth. “Who Was St. Valentine? .” History, History.com, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.history.com/news/6-surprising-facts-about-st-valentine.

History Editors . “Valentine’s Day 2023: Origins, Background & Traditions – History.” History.com, History , 2 Feb. 2023, https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2.

Kithcart, David. “St. Valentine, The Real Story.” CBN.com, 700 Club, 5 Feb. 2021, https://www1.cbn.com/st-valentine-real-story.

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