Valentine’s Day: Vapid Yet Beloved

Valentine's Day Through the Decades

A day devoted to love. We might not know why, but when February 14th rolls around, it’s all about amore. Where did it come from, and where are we now regarding this complicated yet hallowed holiday?

The origins of Valentine’s Day are relatively murky. They’re about as clear as your understanding of the hints your partner is dropping for the gift they want this year. 

There was a saint involved, a little religion, some pagans and their festivals, even a beheading. Doesn’t that sound romantic?

It wasn’t all candy and flowers at the beginning, so let’s just go ahead and fast-forward to the day’s connection with romance.

It turns out Valentine’s Day is for the birds. No, that’s not because we’re mad no one is sending us roses this year; it really was about birds. 

February 14th was declared St. Valentine’s Day in the fifth century. St. Valentine was a martyr whose story is anything but straight. There’s even speculation that there were two Valentines who met a similar end. Over time, several versions ended up connecting his (their?) death to some type of romantic gesture, but it’s also likely that the day took on a romantic tone due to a common belief during the Middle Ages in France and England. 

They believed that February 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season. It’s where we get the term “lovebirds” from. (Now that is kind of cute.) So, the day that was originally dedicated to a martyr dying a tragic death turned into a celebration of bird love, and boy, have we taken it to the extreme!

Gone are the days when a little paper heart and a sweet sentiment were all you needed to get the girl. Valentine’s Day is big business. 2022 saw an astonishing $23.9 billion spent on gifts for the day.

Like so many other holidays and events, Valentine’s day has succumbed to the revenue-driven economic cogs of our society. Even so, we can’t help but feel nostalgic about the day.

Let’s go back roughly a hundred years to get a glimpse of how we might have celebrated in another era.

Happy Valentine’s Day! We hope you find a way to celebrate that fits your style. Don’t be afraid to dip into another decade to borrow a great idea. You’d look great in the yard. Wearing a trench coat. Holding a boombox.