The holiday of Valentine’s Day probably derives its origins from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. In the early days of Rome, fierce wolves roamed the village. The Romans called upon one of their gods, Lupercus, to keep the wolves away. A festival held in honor of Lupercus was celebrated February 15th. The festival was celebrated as a spring festival. Their calender was different at that time, with February falling in early springtime.
Legend has it that the holiday became Valentine’s Day after a priest named Valentine. Valentine was a priest in Rome at the time Christianity was a new religion. The Emperor at that time, Claudius II, ordered the Roman soldiers NOT to marry or become engaged. Claudius believed that as married men, his soldiers would want to stay home with their families rather than fight his wars. Valentine defied the Emperor’s decree and secretly married the young couples. He was eventually arrested, imprisoned, and put to death.
Valentine was beheaded on February 14th, the eve of the Roman holiday Lupercalia. After his death, Valentine was named a saint. As Rome became more Christian, the priests moved the spring holiday from the 15th of February to the 14th – Valentine’s Day. Now the holiday honored Saint Valentine instead of Lupercus.