Topics: How can I get my husband to be more romantic?
In ancient Rome, 13, 14 and 15 February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival. This seems to be the basis for a celebration of love on this date. It was marked in a subtly different way in those days, however. According to Noel Lenski, classics professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, speaking in the National Geographic, young men would strip naked and use goat- or dog-skin whips to spank the backsides of young women in order to improve their fertility; an early IVF, if you will.
A Christian known as Valentine of Terni is martyred in the reign of Emperor Aurelian. Little is known of his life, except that he was made Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) in AD 197 and died not too long after. He was apparently imprisoned, tortured and beheaded on the Via Flaminia in Rome for his Christianity by the order of a Roman prefect with the oxymoronic name of Placid Furius. According to legend, he died on 14 February, but that is likely a later embellishment.
The then Pope, Gelasius, declared 14 February to be St Valentine's Day, a Christian feast day. This is likely to have been an if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them approach to the still-popular pagan festival of Lupercalia.