Share This:

Valentines day

San Valentino: Origins of Valentine’s day

Valentines day The origins
Valentines day: The origins

Valentines day: starting from 4th century BC the Romans had the tradition of celebrating the god Lupercus with a ritual which was repeated every year – all those who believed in the god had to put their name inside an urn.


The names of the men and the women would then be mixed careful and drawn randomly. Couples would then be formed, who would live together as married couples for one all year, just as lovers, until the new year would come,  when some more couples would be formed by repeating the ritual.

This tradition was seen as a good thing by the Catholic church who decided to put an end to this by nominating a proper Saint for Lovers.

So, instead of adoring the god “Lupercus”, the church decided to appoint a bishop who had been martyred 200 years before and who is now famously known as San Valentino.

Valentines day The origins

San Valentino was born in Terni in the year 175 A.D.

He is the patron saint of Terni in Umbria, the patron saint of love and of all those people who are in love. Saint Valentine dedicated all his life to the Christian community living in the small town of Terni near Rome, where there were many persecutions against Christians.

He was consecrated bishop of Terni in 197 A.D. by Pope San Feliciano. He is nowadays considered the patron of lovers because the legend says that he was the first to celebrate the union between a pagan roman legionnaire and a young Christian woman.  

A roman centurion named Sabino fell in love with Serapia, a young girl from Terni. He went to her parents to ask the permission to marry her, but they refused since they were Christians.

Serapia, who was in love with him, asked him to go to Saint Valentine for help. Sabino went to Saint Valentine and was baptised, but right then Serapia got ill with TB.

The days passed and the girl did not improve. So Valentine was called. Sabino prayed the saint to help her, because he could not live without her. Valentine prayed to the Lord and both young lovers died and lived together for eternity.  

Saint Valentine was martyred because he celebrated the union between the two lovers. He was beheaded on 14th February 273 A.D. by emperor Aureliano for not having suspended the blessing on the two lovers (whilst he had been pardoned by the previous emperor).

It was pope Gelasio I to establish Valentine’s day celebration from  496 A.D. on the day of his martyr. The remains of the saint are in the basilica of Terni, in Umbria.

Another legend says that one day Saint Valentine, hearing two young lovers fighting, when towards them holding a splendid rose in his hand. The saint talked to them, gave them the rose and whispered words of reconciliation, to stop them fighting.

He asked them to both hold with their hands the rose and to pray that their love would last forever. A little while after the two lovers went back to Saint Valentine. To celebrate their marriage on the 14th February.

That is why we celebrate Saint Valentine on 14th February and we give roses to each other. Valentines day: The origins

In Italy Valentine’s day is celebrated like the rest of the world, but we are not so mad in sending out cards. We prefer to celebrate the day going out with the person we love for a candle lit dinner and giving that person an original or symbolic present. Sometime it can be only a red rose, sometimes people go mad and it can be a nice diamond ring.

Good to know also that a celebration which started in Italy over a 1000 years ago is now celebrated worldwide!

About The Author

Pretending to be a food & travel blogger, giving it a go as a cooking instructor and culinary guide. Venice loving daughter and wanna-be guru. #aphotoofveniceaday Offering cooking lessons at As a friend once said: A Fire Cracker full of energy, writing a book on Cicchetti!