Bartenders Share Their Favorite Ways To Drown Valentine’s Day Sorrows

Sometimes, love hurts. But it hurts less when you have a drink to soothe the aching, numb the pain and mend a broken heart — if only for the night. Three bartenders offer up their remedy to Valentine’s Day with three lip-smacking cocktails, plus their suggestions on what to eat and watch, cocktail in hand. Here’s to love!

Midnight In Paris

  • 1 ½ oz bourbon
  • ½ oz Meletti 1870 Bitter
  • ½ oz cranberry liqueur
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz honey syrup*
  • 3 drops rosewater
  • 1 red rose petal, for garnish

Directions: Combine all ingredients. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with rose petal. *For the honey syrup, combine equal parts clover honey and hot water. Shake or stir to mix.

Lettre Écarlate

  • 1 ½ oz gin
  • 1 ½ oz Roi Rene Rouge
  • ½ oz Licor 43
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish

Directions: Combine ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain and serve up with a lemon twist.

The Heartbeet

  • 2 oz beet-infused vodka*
  • ¾ oz Raspberry-cilantro syrup**
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • Cilantro leaf, for garnish

Directions: Combine in a mixing glass, add ice and shake to mix. Strain and serve up in a coupe with a cilantro leaf garnish.

Why Your Dog Is The Ideal Valentine

The beginning of the year can be stressful, with New Year’s resolutions and Valentine’s Day, which is a huge deal even if you’re one of those people who claims that they don’t care. Valentine’s Day is hard to forget and it sometimes adds all kinds of pressure on people.

Couples tend to become unbearable over social media and basically every store within sight is filled with teddy bears and heart shaped candies. The struggle is real.

We’ve concluded that the perfect date for the world and yourself is your dog. Don’t believe us? Here are some reasons that might change your mind.

You Guys Are So Cute Together

Instead of becoming one of those people, you can treat your social media friends to a photo they might actually want to see. A cute selfie with your dog is never annoying or out of place, and you can be sure no one will be rolling their eyes at you and claiming that you’re looking for attention.

Exercising Together Is Fun

Dog parks are surreal places that make you feel like you’re somewhere where dreams can come true. Is there a better way to raise your spirits than to be surrounded by lovable pups?

No, there’s not.

Bring Your Valentine To Work

Since V-Day is the type of boring holiday where you still have to go to work, you can bring your dog and add some pep to your co-worker’s step. They’ll be thankful.

Ordering Take Out Is Easy

You won’t have to share. Wait, yes you do.

No Judgement

Your dog won’t care what you’re wearing or how your hair looks. Spend the night in and catch up on a movie or your favorite show. You won’t be disturbed.

Cuddles!

Dog snuggles are amazing. There are few things that are better than the moment when your dog falls asleep on your lap and you decide you’re not moving for the rest of the night.

No Fighting

It sounds a little bleak but be sure to enjoy the silent companionship that only a pet can offer.

There will be no arguing over which movie to pick, or which restaurant to go to. Just peaceful cuddles.

Quality Time At It’s  Best

It’s hard to remember to spend some quality time with your pet during the hustle of everyday life and work, but be sure to appreciate them on this special date. It’s good for your health!

Cheap Date

You won’t have to worry over chocolates, gifts and an expensive dinner. You’re dog isn’t after your wallet, and they won’t get offended if you don’t give them the most expensive gourmet treat.

Unconditional Love

The best reason of all. Your dog will be over the moon just because they get to spend some alone time with you.

Grab Your Significant Other And Share Some Of These Valentine’s Day Specials And Meal Deals

People love to go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, and that means restaurants are competing for your business. If what you and your significant other share is a love of frugality, the holiday is a fine time to find discounts and deals on meals out. Or heart-shaped pizzas.

Free Food With a Catch

Auntie Anne’s: Buy one, get one free heart-shaped pretzels (see below) on Feb. 14 as long as you’re a member of its Pretzel Perks rewards program. You need to have already downloaded the app and joined the program before Feb. 12.

Mimi’s: Get a free entrée on your next visit after leaving a note for someone you love on the chain’s Facebook page. There’s also a deal where couples can get a three-course meal for free if they get engaged at Mimi’s on Valentine’s Day, if they have the ring on hand. Couples who get engaged at Mimi’s restaurants on the holiday can post a photo on the chain’s Facebook page to enter to win a $500 gift card to the restaurant, or anyone can enter the drawing by following the instructions on the contest page.

Qdoba: The “Qdoba For a Kiss” promotion is essentially a buy one, get one promotion where you get the freebie if you smooch a loved one. Or a stranger. Or yourself, presumably, if you’re eating two burritos.

Schlotsky’s: The chain will give away 100,000 free bottles of hot sauce at its restaurants while supplies last. (Warning: auto-play video at that link.) Not all locations are participating, so check before you go.

Shoney’s: Customers who get the “all you care to eat” Food Bar will get free hot fudge cake. The Valentine’s Day version of the bar costs $24.99 per couple, and $12.99 for singles.

Holiday-Themed Stunt Food

Auntie Anne’s: They’re calling these “heart-shaped” pretzels, but they just look like slightly narrower pretzels than normal to us. They’ll only be available on Feb. 14.

Dunkin’ Donuts: They have heart-shaped donuts, as well as an Instagram-based contest where people are encouraged to share their love stories that involve Dunkin’ Donuts, and we are fairly certain they have to describe the love between two people, not a person and a donut.

Papa John’s, Papa Murphy’s, Pizza Hut, and Valentino’s: All of these chains are reportedly offering heart-shaped pizzas this year; check with your local restaurant to make sure they’re taking part first. Local pizzerias or your favorite regional chains might be taking part as well, but prepare for disappointment.

What we’re saying is that maybe you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much if you order one of these.

If you lived in Israel, you and your sweetheart could enjoy a special Burger King Adult Meal promotion, which includes two Whoppers, two fries, two beers, and what BK refers to as “A romantic ADULT TOY.”

If you know of another holiday deal at a national or regional chain that we left out, please let us know!

Therapists Say That Valentine’s Day Is No Longer Sexy

Valentine’s Day has always been about sex — whoops, love. But, for many, this February 14 feels neither sexy nor particularly loving, thanks to political events from the confirmation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a man who tried to block women’s birth control access, to Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries. So, this year, sex educators and therapists are calling for Valentine’s Day to have a different focus: Instead of talking about sex, we need to talk about sexual rights.

“In a year in which the rights of sexual and gender minorities have been increasingly challenged, and reproductive health and rights are frequently in the news, this Valentine’s Day needs to be about more than just ‘sexy time,’” said the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the major professional organization for sex educators and therapists, in a press release.

The press release does not mention Trump by name — but, of course, he’s there, as is his administration and the Republican party as a whole. It states that AASECT “opposes all psychological, social, cultural, legislative and governmental forces that would restrict, curtail or interfere with the fundamental values of sexual health and sexual freedom that we espouse.”

What forces would try to restrict sexual health and sexual freedom? Well, Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, has argued that employers should be able to deny contraceptive coverage to employees and believes, incorrectly, that contraception causes abortion. His vice president, Mike Pence, is rabidly anti-choice and, as governor of Indiana, signed a law banning abortion in cases of “genetic abnormality” and defunded Planned Parenthood in his state. Trump himself plans to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which promises free birth control to most women. Republicans, who now also have majorities in the House and Senate, have long sought to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides sexual and reproductive healthcare — including everything from STI testing to sex education — to millions of Americans.

The release goes on to say that AASECT is against “all abuses of sexuality including, but not limited to, harassment, intimidation, coercion, prejudice and the infringement of any individual’s sexual and civil rights.”

The subtext, of course, is a president who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has been accused of harassment and sexual assault by several women, including his ex-wife (although she later said she didn’t mean it in a “literal or criminal sense”). As far as prejudice goes, Trump has hinted that he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn marriage equality, and Pence signed a bill as governor to allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community. Infringement on civil rights? Trump has supported North Carolina’s HB2, which restricts transgender people from using the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

This isn’t to mention attacks on sexual entertainment or (horror movie trailer voice) pornography. The GOP platform has declared porn a “public health crisis.” Utah has called it a “public health hazard” and suggested that it is addictive. (AASECT recently made news with a position statement acknowledging no “sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder.”) There is a push underway across the U.S. to censor porn on all internet-connected devices. And rounding out the current threat to X-rated movies, Trump has signed an anti-porn pledge promising to “aggressively enforce” obscenity laws.

These are but a few examples of the many reasons that this year’s Valentine’s Day calls for a little something more than candy hearts and lingerie. As AASECT puts it, “[We] would like to wish the citizenry of the United States a happy, healthy Valentine’s Day, but more importantly want to affirm the fundamental value of sexuality as an inherent, essential and beneficial dimension of being human.”

How to Buy Her Great Flowers for Valentine’s Day

If there’s one thing we know about Valentine’s Day, it’s that it isn’t about us. In actuality, Valentine’s Day is all about her—making sure we show her that we love and appreciate the time and effort she puts into being with us (as we know, we can be handfuls). Alas, we’re men. We’re simply excited by the prospect of a steak and a good after-dinner cigar. But her reward for listening to us prattle on about those things should be anything involving fancy dinners, small tokens of appreciation, handmade cards, flowers, and a whole bunch of other cute shit.

One thing men always seem to get wrong, no matter how hard they try, are flowers. It’s one of the mainstays of the holiday, yet we still tend to half ass it just for the sake of saying, “But honey, I got you flowers!”

This year, put some goddamn effort in.

First of All, Stop Ordering Flowers Online

The appeal of ordering a floral arrangement online is evident: They’re super convenient, and because online shops don’t have the overhead of maintaining (and paying for) a physical shop, their prices are usually relatively competitive. That said, specific delivery date fees and other less-obvious charges can add up.

The problem is, the flowers delivered by quick-and-easy delivery sites are often of disappointingly poor quality. There’s no telling what kind of quality they’re going to be beforehand, because there’s no way of knowing how they were stored, where they came from, or how old they are. You’re essentially clicking a button, placing the order, and hoping for the best… which is dumb.

Plus, local florists hate online services. The service is supposed to connect local florists and customers, but most of the time, they take the profits and the florist ends up losing money. One florist in California ended up $2000 in the hole one Valentine’s Day. So shop smart. Go to an actual store.

Do NOT Buy From Roadside Stands

You’re scrambling home from the office because you might be late for you dinner reservations, and there he is, parked outside the gas station down the street from your building. He has a sign that says, “Dozen Roses: $15.”

It’s convenient, it’s affordable (read: cheap), and since you didn’t care enough to order beforehand, it’ll likely get you out of some hot water when you get home to the missus. Only, you’re totally wrong. Those flowers suck, and she’s not dumb—she’ll notice.

Even in dire circumstances, you can always find some chocolates and a stuffed bear in a CVS or somewhere similar. Just don’t ever bother with the roadside cheapsies, because the last thing you want is to show up to greet her with buds literally falling off their stem.

Don’t ask us how we know…

Pick a Florist, But Not Just Any Florist—You Get What You Pay For

Flower shops are one of the most popular independent businesses for creatives because florists require no actual training. All a florist needs is a deep understanding of color palettes, an eye for complementary design, and a creative touch. For you, it means that every florist is different from the next. Rather than Googling “Florist in [City Name]” and picking the first option, do some research and find the best one in your area or the one whose style best matches your (or her) own.

We know, we know—it sounds like a lot of work. But that’s kind of the point.

Look around on Google, Yelp, and elsewhere to find a florist that people seem to really love. Additionally, don’t be afraid to actually walk into the shop and talk with the florist before you order. Hell, for all you know, this store’s about to claw you out of a self-dug ditch.

If You’re on a Budget, Head to the Grocery Store—No, Seriously

Buying good quality flowers without getting ripped off isn’t impossible. Believe it or not, many grocery stores (again, do your homework, here) store their flowers much like actual florists.

In fact, the bigger super-stores like Publix, B.J.’s, etc. have their own in-house floral shops. If you can find one of them, you’re golden, because they offer the exact same quality as your local florist, but usually at a price that’s 10-15 percent less expensive. We still recommend hitting up a local shop if you want a more personal touch, but, like we said, this is good if budget’s a concern.

The only tip here is don’t head in there on Valentine’s Day expecting to get a good bouquet. Order a few days in advance, and they’ll usually even ask you what time you’re going to be in to pick them up so that they stay in the freezer as long as possible.

Make Sure You Select Healthy Flowers

Doubling down on the grocery store suggestion above, if you’re going to go that route and are trying to select your own bouquet, you’re going to need to know how to select the right flowers.

First and most importantly, don’t look for flowers that look like they’re in full bloom. The idea is to select tight buds that are going to open up over the course of the next couple of hours. If they’re already in full bloom before you fork over the cash, you’re in for a disappointment.

Look at the flower’s calyx (the base, right below the bud). Is it a healthy green? If it’s a darker green or even slightly brownish, the flower is on its way out.

Don’t be afraid to touch the stem—how does it feel? Is it strong and firm, or does it feel softer and flexible? A healthy flower—especially a rose—is going to have a good strong stem.

Learn What She Likes

Even though roses are the symbolic Valentine’s Day flower arrangement, not every girl digs roses. Do the extra homework and find out what she likes—preferably without her noticing.

There are actually a lot of different types of flowers out there (we know; crazy, right?). Consider orchids, sunflowers, lilies, carnations, tulips, or even daisies. Or something we didn’t list, because there are a lot more of those too. We don’t need to tell you every woman’s preferences are different.

If She’s Allergic to Flowers, Do NOT Get an Edible Arrangement

It’s actually kind of ridiculous that we need even comment on this phenomena, but while doing the supplementary research for this story, we saw an alarming amount of men asking if it was acceptable to replace a Valentine’s Day bouquet with an Edible Arrangement and/or fruit basket if their girlfriend is allergic to flowers.

No. It. Fucking. Isn’t.

Edible Arrangements are awesome just about every other time of year (especially when they come with the chocolate covered bananas!), but on Valentine’s Day, if you show up with an Edible Arrangement, fruit basket, or anything else that says, “Hey, thank you for your business; you’re a wonderful client!” you should smack yourself in the face.

If she’s allergic to flowers, you can always go for the classic stuffed animals and chocolates routine, or you can even get more personal with things like small jewelry, a heartfelt handmade card, or even concert/event tickets. Just don’t even think about a fruit basket.

There’s Nothing Sweeter Than a DIY Bouquet

Boys, we’re speakin’ the truth here. If you really want to impress your significant other this year, doing it yourself is the way to go. Yes, it’ll take a lot of time and effort. You’re going to have to learn which flowers go with what, what color palettes compliment each other, how to dress a bouquet, and how to actually put it together in a package that doesn’t look like you put a bunch of crap on a table, bundled it up and threw a ribbon around it. But, in the end, it’s going to make you a V-Day hero.

Look into classic flower arrangements, or look at similarly colored seasonals, and then go from there. If you want to be a real Romeo about it, make an arrangement based on her favorite color/s.

There are a shocking amount of resources out there for doing it yourself, so it shouldn’t be toomuch work to pull off. Once you’ve come up with the arrangement style, call your local florist, tell them what your plans are, and then order each type of flower, one by one. Chances are, they’ll be eager to help you out and even give you tips and pointers along the way, because you’re so damn charming and cute.

Hooters Will Give You 10 Wings If You Tear Up A Picture Of Your Ex On Valentine’s Day

After a tough break-up, it can be therapeutic to round up a few pictures of your ex and shred them. Is it petty? Sure. A little immature? Maybe. But still… it’s just a photo.

As if you needed any more incentives to destroy the images from a failed relationship, Hooters wants to feed you for your trouble on Valentine’s Day. The famous fast food chain known for its chesty, tight t-shirt sporting waitresses (and new, non chesty chain) aims to ease your transition into single life by plying you with saucy wings. They want you to “shred ’em and forget ’em.”

The promotion asks customers to bring in photos of their former loves and shred them in a symbolic show of freedom on February 14th. For your public display of independence, Hooters will give you 10 free boneless wings (as long as you pay for 10 wings, which means you’re eating 20 wings solo, which is a lot and might just be having an effect on your dating status). The Hooters waitresses will be on hand to help you shred the photo and perhaps leave you with a shred of hope that you could date one of them.

This isn’t the first time Hooters has held this promotion. They launched it last year for the first time and over 25,000 people decided to move on (and into a world of free wings) by ripping up photos of ex-bae.

If public shredding isn’t for you, you can go visit the Hooters website and upload a photo of your ex and fill out a questionnaire about how things went so terribly wrong. If customers complete the #ShredYourEx quiz online, they’ll receive a digital coupon for the heard-earned, saucy wings. Everyone knows free food is guaranteed to make you feel better. At least until later that night when you touch the other side of the bed only to realize how bitterly cold it is. Plus the indigestion. That will probably kick in around bedtime too.

But, a potential stomachache is acceptable because you get to choose from one of seventeen wing sauces. Yes, seventeen. Who knew there was even that many sauces in the world? Choosing between Buffalo, Chipotle Honey and 15 others really ought to make you realize that options abound and there really are more fish in the sea.

Who You Should Actually Spend Valentine’s Day With According To Your Zodiac Sign

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and if you want love to be in the air, you have to find the right match. We’ve partnered with Psychic Source to bring you this forecast of your best Valentine’s date options based on your astrological sign. Knowledge is power, and the first step to having a perfect V-day is to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Aries

(March 21st to April 19th)

Aries people love the exciting situations a lot of the other signs would be intimidated by — rooms full of people they don’t know (yet), new cities, the lure of something they haven’t experienced before. They could spend Valentine’s Day with a room full of strangers and leave with a few new best friends and love interests. Your perfect match is someone you can introduce to new things (and who will be down to try it): a Gemini or Aquarius would be ideal.

Taurus

(April 20th to May 21st)

No one can get in (and stay in) a rut like a Taurus. But they like it that way! For their special love holiday they should do exactly what they want to and spend it with people who can appreciate the beauty of stability. A Netflix date with a fellow homebody like Cancer or Pisces will be the best use of V-day.

Gemini

(May 22nd to June 21st)

It doesn’t really matter who I say a Gemini should spend the day with because they will keep second guessing until the very last minute until they suddenly make a decision. They should partner up with someone who won’t mind taking the lead — and is confident enough that a Gemini won’t second guess them. They’ll also need to walk the impossible line of being both exciting and laid back. Try an Aries, Aquarius, or Libra.

Cancer

(June 22nd to July 22nd)

Cancers LOVE love. They love the act of loving, and they love being loved. They need to spend Valentine’s with someone who can freely express their emotions and hang with the most sensitive sign. They should do a nurturing activity (like cooking a meal) with a Pisces or Virgo. If they want to live on the edge they can choose a Scorpio — just be aware that the only emotion they’ll be expressing is sexual in nature.

Leo

(July 23rd to August 22nd)

Like Cancers, Leos LOVE love — they just happen to like the receiving part a lot more than the giving part. They need to feel like the star in their relationship, which means they should be with someone who won’t feel like they’re playing second fiddle. A perfect Valentine’s date would be an activity that the Leo shines at but will be fun for everyone involved (like karaoke if they’re a singer, or a cooking or painting class). They should bring along a Sagittarius or a Capricorn.

Virgo

(August 23rd to September 22nd)

Virgos can be really particular about the things that are important to them. They won’t just want Valentine’s to be another day; they’ll want it to be the best day it could be. They should be with someone who will appreciate their planning and work — but will also help them chill out a bit. Dinner at a well-researched restaurant with a Taurus or a Capricorn would be ideal.

Libra

(September 23rd to October 22nd)

One of the best qualities of Libras is that they can get along with just about anyone. Their natural calmness is magnetic and they can bring out the best in their partner, no matter who they are. For Valentine’s Day, they should hang with a Gemini or a Sagittarius and let their date suggest an activity. No matter what it is, a Libra will make it better.

Scorpio

(October 23rd to November 22nd)

Scorpios can get a lot of grief for their feisty temperament, but they more than make up for it when they channel that passion and emotion into love. Their best partnership comes with someone who can balance them out — someone more stable than volatile, quick to love and slow to anger. Cancer or Pisces are the best bet.

Sagittarius

 (November 23rd to December 21st)

Sagittarius people love Valentine’s Day — but only in secret. They come across so confident and tough, it’s hard to imagine they appreciate a little love fest like the rest of us. For a wild time they should hook up with a Scorpio, for a more meaningful night they should find someone who will let them be vulnerable in their need for love, like a Gemini or an Aquarius.

Capricorn

(December 22nd to January 20th)

A Capricorn not only wants to celebrate Valentine’s Day, they want to celebrate the *perfect* Valentine’s Day. They should receive flowers at the office in front of all their friends and have reservations at a nice restaurant to look forward to that night. They should plan to spend their day with someone who will put the work into making the day the best it could be (up to those lofty Capricorn standards): another Capricorn or a Virgo.

Aquarius

(January 21st to February 18th)

Aquarians are often the funniest sign. They have no problem getting dates because of their magnetic personalities and easy charm. They could win over whatever sign they wanted, if they tried hard enough but it’s good to remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Stick to a sign you’ll truly enjoy hanging around with past the thrill of the chase: a Sagittarius, Libra, or Aries.

Pisces

(February 19th to March 20th)

A Pisces is the perfect sidekick for Valentine’s Day. They are laid back enough to enjoy just about any activity — but they’re much more selective when it comes to their partner. A good match for a Pisces needs to be intelligent, kind, and emotionally stable. They should look for a Cancer, Virgo or Scorpio and plan a casual date like making pizza from scratch while watching both of their favorite movies.

Rolex Releases “I Love You” Watch for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, luxury watch customizer Bamford Watch Department unveils a love-themed personalization on the iconic Milgauss model from Rolex. Gifting a Rolex to your loved one would already make a statement, but for those who want to take it to the next level this “I Love You” piece is guaranteed to melt anyone’s heart. Featuring a unique red and black polka dot dial design with red hearts taking the place of the numbering, the stunning piece is treated with BWD’s military graded titanium coating for a scratch-resistant surface. Look for this limited edition Valentine-themed Milgauss timepiece now, available exclusively from Bamford Watch Department.

The History Behind Valentine’s Day

While not thought to be directly related to modern Valentine’s Day traditions, the beginnings of celebrating love (of a sort) in February date back to the Romans. The feast of Lupercalia was a pagan fertility and health festival, observed from February 13th through the 15th, that was celebrated at least as far back as 44 BCE (the year Julius Caesar was assassinated). Some historians believe it goes back even further, though with possibly a different name.

Connected to the Roman god Lupercus, (the equivalent to the Greek god Pan), the festival was originally supposed to be about shepherds and bringing health and fertility to their sheep and cows. When it became more ingrained into Roman culture, it additionally celebrated Lupa (also another possible reason it is named what it is), the she-wolf who nursed the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, to health. Religious offerings happened at the cave on Palatine Hill, the place where Rome was thought to be founded.

The ceremonies were filled with animal sacrifices, the wearing of goat skins, and nudity. Priests would lead sacrifices of goats and young dogs, animals who were thought to have a “strong sexual instinct.” Afterwards, a feast would occur with lots of wine flowing. When everyone was fat and happy, the men would shed their clothes, drape the goat skins from the earlier sacrifice on their naked bodies, and run around the city striking naked women.

As Plutarch described:

Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

It has also been speculated that there was match-making that went on during the feast, akin to what people did at festivals during the Middle Ages. Whether the original feast had it or not, later, young men would draw names of young woman, randomly pairing up one another during the feast. If the pairing was agreeable, a marriage could potentially be arranged. If not, well, they broke up.

As the years went by, the feast of Lupercalia was celebrated less by the higher class and the aristocratic and enjoyed almost exclusively by the working class. In fact, the wealthy would insult one another by telling each other to attend the feast of Lupercalia.

In the fifth century, Pope Hilary tried to get the festival banned due to it being a pagan ritual and unchristian. At the end of the fifth century (appx 496 AD), Pope Gelasius I did end up banning it. In a long letter sent to all Roman nobility who wanted the festival to continue, he stated, “If you assert that this rite has salutary force, celebrate it yourselves in the ancestral fashion; run nude yourselves that you may properly carry out the mockery.”

Pope Gelasius also established a much more Christian celebration and declared it would be honored on February 14th – a feast in which St. Valentine would be the patron saint.

Between the second and eighth centuries, the name Valentine was actually rather common since it translated from Latin meaning “strong or powerful.” Scattered through the Christian religion over the last two thousand years, there have been a dozen different Valentines who have drawn mention, including a Pope (during the 9th century, but was only Pope for two months). It seems the Valentine that Pope Gelasius dedicated a feast to may have been a composite of two or three different men.  You see, he never made it clear who exactly he was trying to honor, and even the Catholic Church today isn’t sure.

One of the Valentines lived in the third century and was beheaded under the rule of Emperor Claudius, alleged by some to be because he illegally married Christian couples. Claudius (as did other Emperors before him) believed that soldiers fought better and were more loyal if they were single and had no wife to return home too. So, he banned soldiers from being married.

Another account speaks of a Valentine being killed in the Roman province of Africa because he wouldn’t give up being Christian in the 4th century. Yet another was the Bishop of Interamna (in Italy) during 3rd century; he was beheaded.

Back to 496 AD: Pope Gelasius I instituted the feast in which St. Valentine would be the patron saint, which some have conjectured was meant as a replacement for Lupercalia. After all, co-opting pagan rituals to turn them Christian has been a time-honored practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the motivations, Gelasius’ new feast didn’t really catch on and no such holiday was commonly celebrated in the middle of February for the next thousand years or so, until the 14th century.

(It should also be noted that while Pope Gelasius did ban Lupercalia and proposed a new holiday, it is thought by many historians to be relatively unrelated to modern Valentine’s Day, in that it seems to have had nothing to do with love. For instance, it has been speculated that it was simply a feast of Purification.)

So what about the more recent direct genesis of Valentine’s Day? This began with Geoffrey Chaucer, who is more known as the writer of The Canterbury Tales. However, he also wrote other things, such as a 700 line poem in 1382 called the “Parliament of Foules,” written in honor of the first anniversary of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia’s engagement.  This poem is generally considered to include the first explicit Valentine’s Day / love connection ever written, with one of the lines reading (of course, translated to modern English),

“For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind that men can imagine comes to this place to choose his mate.”

While some scholars believed Chaucer invented the Valentine’s Day / love connection that was previously not mentioned in any writings that have survived to this day, it may well have been that he simply helped popularized the idea.  Around the same time Chaucer was penning this poem, at least three other notable authors (Otton de Grandson, John Gower, and Pardo from Valencia) were also referencing St. Valentine’s Day and the mating of birds in their poems.

Whatever the case, the idea of Valentine’s Day being a day for lovers caught on, with an early Valentine being written by Margery Brewes in 1477 to John Paston, who she called “my right well-beloved Valentine.”

Over a century later, Shakespeare was writing about Valentine’s Day in, among other works, Hamlet with this line,

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Fast-forward to around the 18th century and the idea of exchanging love note cards on Valentine’s Day started to become extremely popular in Britain, first hand-made then produced commercially (initially called “Mechanical Valentines”). This tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine’s Day soon spread to America.  Esther A. Howland, whose father ran a large book and stationary store, received a Valentine and decided this would be a great way to make money; so was inspired to begin mass producing these cards in the 1850s in the United States. Others followed suit.

Since then, the holiday has steadily grown to today when it is an absolute marketing and money making machine (second only to Christmas in money spent by consumers).  Further, according to the Greeting Card Association, more than 25% of all cards sent each year are Valentine’s Day cards, about one billion cards each year.  In the 1980s, the diamond industry decided it wanted its cut and began running marketing campaigns promoting Valentine’s Day as a day to give jewelry to show you really loved someone, instead of just sending cards and chocolates; this was obviously a very successful campaign.

So, this year on Valentine’s Day, when you have your hands full of roses, chocolates, and Hallmark Cards for your Valentine, you’ll know who to thank – Pope Gelasius banning a naked, drunk pagan ritual, the beheading of a guy for supposedly marrying people, and Geoffrey Chaucer and his Parliament of Foule