(CNN) — Valentine’s day came. Did you bring enough gifts for everyone?
Love it or hate it, this holiday has come a long way.
From goatskin and fertility to 16th-century greeting cards, here’s a quick tour of various theories about the origins of the date dedicated to love, love, love.
The Festival of Lupercalia
The ancient Roman Lupercalia festival was one of the earliest records of the term Valentine’s Day. But the vacation is not what you imagine.
In fact, it’s probably darker.
The event, held on February 15, began with the traditional sacrifice of an unfortunate goat and dog.
And when that didn’t result in Cupid’s arrows being fired, a group of priests called Luperci cut a piece of skin from the two animals, touched their foreheads with it, and struck any women nearby with it.
The idea, it said, was that women hoped it would help them become more fertile.
By the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I had seen enough: he replaced Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day.
No more sacrifices, only love.
Saint named Valentine
Many believed that two saints named Valentine were the inspiration for the holiday. But what if it’s the same person?
A Valentine had been persecuted by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus after refusing to worship the Roman gods. In prison, he signed a letter that said “from your Valentine” to a woman he said he had cured of blindness.
Many have said that the holiday could be inspired by your kindness and love.
Around the same time, a priest named Saint Valentine of Terni went against the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples of young lovers.
However, Emperor Gothicus believed that single men made better soldiers. Nothing to love, less to lose.
Gothicus executed him on February 14 around AD 269 C., history says. Since he died for the sin of arranging marriages, his death is remembered as a day of love.
The gift boom
One thing is for sure: Valentine’s Day is a billion dollar business.
By 2023, the National Retail Federation estimates that US consumers would spend nearly $26 billion on vacations, up from $23.9 billion in 2022.
One of the earliest greeting cards to celebrate the day dates from the 16th century. It included the now-iconic question, “Will you be my valentine?”
And in 1847 Esther Howland became one of the first American women Christmas card makers. Richard Cardbury followed in 1868 with the manufacture of the first box of chocolates.
Today, the holiday is celebrated around the world with gifts such as red roses, chocolates, sweets, movies made on the day, and more.