The Real Story of Cupid (and other Valentine’s Day Traditions)

Valentine’s Day is a serious endeavor in the United States. In 2015, Americans spent a whopping $18.9 billion on gifts to celebrate their love. Valentine’s Day is not just fun and games—the legend and stories that we cherish on Valentine’s Day have history that is as old as time itself.

Cupid: The God of Love

When you think of Cupid, it’s likely that you picture a cute little cherub baby with a bow and arrow. But long before this image emerged, Cupid was known to the Greeks as Eros, the god of love, who adorned a bow and arrow that he used to alter people’s (and other god’s) emotions.

Over time, especially as the Greeks entered the Hellenistic period, which was known for its decadence, Cupid became increasingly portrayed as a playful, mischievous child, which has now been morphed into the small baby that we know so well.

St. Valentine: The Man of the Day

How did we get to the name “Valentine’s Day” anyway? The History Channel has several Saint Valentine Day stories. It’s apparent that we’re not entirely sure where the name came from!

There are at least three different Saint Valentines celebrated by the Catholic Church, but two leading stories that connect the men to the romance. The first is about a priest named Valentine who, after learning that Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage for young men when he realized that men without wives or children made better soldiers, continued to perform marriages in secret.

The second story is about a Valentine who helped Christians escape torturous Roman prisons. Sometime during his own imprisonment, Valentine fell in love with a woman who came to visit him, and he wrote her a lengthy love letter that was signed with the ever-cherished “From your Valentine.”

Either way, February became the month of celebrating the death or burial of a Saint Valentine.

February: The Month of Fertility & Romance

A pagan celebration of Lupercalia is at the heart of many of our modern Valentine’s Day traditions, particularly when it comes to romance. In the year 240 AD, it’s said that Roman priests of the Luperci order would make sacrifices to the gods of fertility and purity at the ides of February, of February 15. The tradition would also pair women with eligible bachelors, and these pairings often ended in marriages and babies in the year following the Lupercalia festival.

Pope Gelasius outlawed Lupercalia in the 5th Century and instead declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that love became connected to the celebration, when people started associated St. Valentine’s Day with the first day of the bird mating season—and that was all it took to start adding romance to the special day.

Valentine’s Day Gifts & Love Notes

Valentine’s Day greetings and gifts started to gain popularity in the 1400s. According to the History Channel, “The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)” The tradition of writing notes to loved ones—not just romantic notes, but notes to all those people you love—gained popularity in the 1700 and 1800s.

With the development of the postage system, ready-made cards, and decreased postage rates, sending notes near and far started to become the primary way to share love. Today, more than one billion greeting cards are bought to celebrate Valentine’s Day—and more than 85 percent of those are bought by women!

February: The Month of Love

February is famously known as the month of love. Valentine’s Day is set aside to help us emphasize the importance of love in our lives. It’s not very unusual for us to fail to put 2 & 2 together, but love and grief are intimately related. Love is in the Air! For those we hold close, and those we remember fondly.

Reflecting with a song from The Beatles:

In My Life

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them,
In my life I love you more.
In my life I love you more…

Life Insurance is a Gift

While we feast with chocolate and wine, remember that Life Insurance is also a gift. Taking care of those we leave behind is is appreciated far after the food is consumed, and life continues.

Term life insurance or term assurance is life insurance that provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments for a limited period of time, the relevant term. Permanent life insurance is life insurance that covers the remaining lifetime of the insured. A permanent insurance policy accumulates a cash value up to its date of maturation.

When was the last time you checked your policies? Do they make sense? Are the policies even active? That’s where speaking to an insurance professional at Cincinnatus Insurance makes sense.  Send us an email or simply call us at 513-587-3553.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day with those closest to your heart! 

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