Cupid & the History Behind Valentine’s Day

Cupid & the History Behind Valentine’s Day

  • Jan 22, 2022

... hearts, chocolates, roses, Cupid, couples and lovebirds!

February 14th seems to have been forever associated with hearts, chocolates, roses, Cupid, couples and lovebirds. However, little do people know that Valentine’s Day, as we know it now, originated in the late 18th century. Curious about what led to the creation of Valentine’s Day? Keep reading. 

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day originated as a Christian feast celebrating the martyr Saint Valentine. However, through folk tradition, it spread to different parts of the globe and became a commercial celebration of love.

There are several stories associated with February 14th. According to one story, Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned due to ministering the Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. 

Another story that originated in the 18th century suggests Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. The story goes that he sent a letter to her, signed “Your Valentine”, right before his execution. Other myths claim Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who weren’t allowed to marry. 

February 14th was officially marked Saint Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496. In the 14th and 15th centuries, this day became associated with love, as notions of love and romance became more commonplace in pop culture.  

This day’s popularity continued to grow in the 18th and 19th centuries, when lovers started presenting flowers and greeting cards to their “Valentine”. This trend gave way to mass-produced cards and commercial celebrations in many countries.

Who is Cupid?

In classical Greek and Roman mythology, Eros or Cupid is the god of erotic love and attraction. In Classical Greek art, Cupid was portrayed as a slender winged youth. However, in the Hellenistic period, he started being depicted as a chubby little boy with wings and a bow and arrow. 

According to legend, when shot, this arrow fills people with uncontrollable desire. In myths, Cupid often stirs the pot and sets a love story in motion. 

Centuries later, Cupid became popular with Renaissance artists such as Caravaggio, who depicted Cupid as a young, nude boy, equipped with a bow and wings. Cupid’s popularity continued to grow; so much so that when Valentine’s Day became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, Cupid became the go-to illustration for greeting card companies. 

The greeting card industry of the U.S. spearheaded the Cupid trend. The 1950s Congress vote which decreased postage rates in an effort to circumvent the privatisation of the country’s postage service aided this trend. Hallmark took this opportunity to mass produce Valentine’s cards with Cupid as a central feature. 

The globalisation of Valentine’s Day resulted in greeting card companies around the globe taking a page out of Hallmark’s book. As a result, Cupid is now an international symbol of Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Day in Malta

Unquestionably, Malta’s capital, Valletta, is a romantic city. On Valentine’s Day, take your Valentine to the Upper Barrakka Gardens for a breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour. Head to Marsamxett Harbour for a spot of sunset watching. Book a table at one of Valletta’s many romantic restaurants. Or else, simply stroll down Valletta’s streets right before sunset. 

If you’re thinking of staying in Valletta, there’s no better place to stay than Casa Ellul. The small, luxury boutique hotel is just a stone’s throw away from Valletta’s main attractions. Each room is carefully designed for couples, who benefit from highly personalised service that includes exclusive amenities, discreteness and individual attention. One thing is for sure – staying at Casa Ellul on Valentine’s Day will definitely leave your Valentine wanting more.