Like many holidays, Valentine's Day holds cryptic origins usually attributed to numerous sources. One is ancient Rome. From February 13 to February 15, women lined up to be savagely whipped and abused by naked, drunk Roman men because it was believed that enduring the pain would increase their fertility. A lottery was held in order to pair young couples for the duration of the festival. Although this may seem a somewhat ironic version of our present-day celebration of romance, it is often held that this is where the day's origins lie due to the murders of two men named Valentine on February 14 by a Roman emperor.
"St. Valentine's Day" as we call it was first celebrated centuries later as a remembrance of those two men. Proposed historical stories and legends of the miracles performed by the two long gone saints were shared. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that the day finally began to be associated with the notion of romantic love. Shakespeare is known to have written about it in the sweeter sense. In the early 20th century, the day began to be a big boon for business, with Valentine's Day cards finally being commercialized.
Today, the day is celebrated differently around the world. In Japan and South Korea, for instance, it's not about a man expressing his affections for his partner, but a woman expressing hers. Chocolates gifted actually expressed many different kinds of love. But in South Korea, the men have a day of reciprocation called "White Day". And singles have a day of their own a month after that. Many other traditions have lived and died surrounding Valentine's Day, all with interesting histories of their own.
When Valentine's Day comes along, make sure to treat your significant other right. If you're buying for a woman, why not treat her to a nice romantic dinner? Consider a gift. Hair care products are always a great way to go, but if you're thinking about lifting the atmosphere a bit, then give a foot or cushion body massager. Chocolates or bright red roses are a traditional approach, but take heed, as breaking tradition and starting your own can go a long way to fostering love and affection. If you're single, don't forget to treat yourself right, or take some time away with friends. It's a great week for a little vacation.
Although the day has transformed greatly throughout the years, and has become more of a personal holiday for couples instead of a remembrance of particular saints, there's no reason to let it pass by without expressing love for others. Whether it be family or friends, be certain to spread your affection to those you truly appreciate.