We celebrate it every year, it's an opportunity to exchange gifts, sweet words, even to declare our love for some, but ultimately where does the feast of lovers come from?
Les Petits Prödiges decipher for you the different theories that look into the question.
The first origin of Valentine's Day is believed to date back to 270. At the time, Emperor Claudius II banned marriages for fear that men would refuse to go to war to stay with their fiancée. Saint-Valentin, a priest at the time, was sentenced to death for continuing to consecrate weddings despite this ban. So he died defending love! (Rather extreme, but downright romantic!)
Another theory is that Valentine's Day would have appeared following the Lupercalia, fertility festivals in ancient Rome. At the time, the big event of the day was the Luperques race: the men ran in the city and hit the women with thongs made of goatskin (sacrificed for the occasion), which was intended to ensure pregnancy within one year. But of course!
These feasts were banned in 494 (phew!) and replaced by a feast of purification (Candlemas) and of love and fertility (Valentine's Day). And we are very happy with this change!
In the 14th century in the English aristocracy, it was customary to form couples at random for a day. They would then have to court each other, have little attentions for each other, give each other gifts ... many couples were born like this!
The Feast of Lovers
Since 1496, Pope Alexander VI has officially designated Saint Valentine as the Patron Saint of Lovers. The protection of this Patron Saint then applied above all to celibates who were looking for love. The Valentine's Day festivities were an opportunity to find a soul mate through many activities such as hide and seek where young unmarried girls would hide to be found by single men in the village. Couples were then formed, whether for the evening or for life!
The last legend dates from the 14th century in England. It was believed then that February 14 was the start of the mating season for birds! Lovers then "cooed" by sending love poems to each other. This tradition was brought to France by Charles d´Orléans who officially instituted this custom at the French court in the 15th century.
In any case, whatever its true origin, today is still the occasion to celebrate love and we love it! Happy Valentine's Day to all 💕