Valentine’s Day Origins & Writing Prompts

Valentine’s Day is loved by everyone but especially by retailers. Vast amounts of money are spent on gifts such as roses, wine, chocolates, perfume, etc. by men and women looking for that special gift for their significant other.



When you first hear Valentine’s Day mentioned, what is the first thing that pops into your head? Perhaps you think of Cupid armed with his bow and arrows flying around shooting people. Or maybe you think of flowers, chocolates, and hearts. Do you remember a special Valentine’s gift that was given to you by that special someone? No matter what you think of, do you have any clue where this holiday came from and why we celebrate it on February 14?

The story I’ve always heard is that there was a priest named Saint Valentine in Rome. This priest married people on the sly as Claudius II had outlawed marriage for those in the military at this time. Claudius felt that if his soldiers were married, their minds would be on their families and not on protecting his kingdom; therefore, they wouldn’t make very good soldiers. Saint Valentine didn’t agree with this law and continued to marry those who would ask him. When Claudius found out what Valentine was doing, he had him thrown in jail.

Claudius actually thought Valentine was a pretty nice guy until he refused to worship the Roman gods and see things his way about the ban on marriage. Claudius became so angry that he ordered Valentine’s execution. Supposedly the jailor had a daughter who was blind and Valentine did something for his daughter. Some even say that he healed her. So, where does the Valentine’s Day stuff come in? Well, while Valentine was awaiting execution, he is said to have sent a card to a lady friend that was signed, ‘From your Valentine’. In some accounts this is said to have been the jailor’s daughter, but no one is really sure.

Saint Valentine the Martyr,

Saint Valentine the Martyr,

There were also two other Saint Valentines at this time. One was a bishop, and the other is a bit more of a mystery. The only thing known about him is that he died while in Africa. All three of these men were supposed to have been martyred on February 14. Is that why we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14? Not really.

Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility festival, was celebrated on February 15. Pope Gelasius decided to turn this pagan holiday into a Christian holiday. He declared that this fertility holiday would now honor Saint Valentine, and it was to be celebrated one day earlier on February 14.

Cupid had absolutely nothing to do with any of that, so where does he come into the picture? Venus, the goddess of love, had a son whose name was Cupid. Cupid fell madly in love with a beautiful mortal woman whose name was Psyche. I don’t know whether or not he got his mom’s permission or even if his mom knew about his love for Psyche, but he married this human lady. Venus became insanely jealous and transformed into any lady’s worst nightmare of a mother-in-law. She forbade Psyche to so much as glance at her handsome new husband. Psyche, of course, couldn’t resist, and Venus gave her three exceptionally hard tasks to complete as punishment. She died while attempting to do the final one. Cupid was more than a bit distraught over his new wife’s death, so he brought her back to life. The other gods were amazed at the love shared between these two and granted Psyche immortal life.

Writing Prompts
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it is up to the author to write those thousand words. (Richard Petracca)

heart made of roses,

heart made of roses,

A heart made out of red roses would be the perfect way to show your love and affection for someone on Valentine’s Day. Red roses are symbolic of a love that is stronger than thorns. They are a symbol of romance. The heart signifies life. What stories do you see from the picture of the heart made of roses?

The red roses don’t have to be real. They could be made out of silk or they could be made out of tissue paper. They could even be made out of icing and be the topping on a cake. No matter how they are made, their meaning would still be the same.

You could write a really sweet story showing how red roses and hearts came to be symbols of love and emotion. You could show they became symbols of love on this widely celebrated holiday.

You could have a marriage that takes place on Valentine’s Day, and the bride’s bouquet is shaped like a heart and made out of red roses. The wedding is beautiful, and the bride and groom seem to be so in love. Will this be a marriage made in heaven, or is there something going on here that just isn’t seen by most people? Could the happy couple be spies, and their marriage is one of the ways to disguise their true identities? Could they be well-known criminals who have changed their names and are tying the knot to further keep the law from finding them?

heart-shaped bouquet of roses,

heart-shaped bouquet of roses,

These flowers could be a gift from the heart. This young couple is rather broke, and life is hard for them. Their husband wants to get his wife something special to show his love for her, and when he sees this beautiful bouquet of flowers, he knows that this is what he must buy for her. How does he raise the money to purchase these flowers? Or is there something he sells, something he gives up in order to obtain this special bouquet of flowers? What is his wife’s reaction to this gift? What is her reaction when she finds out what he has done to get them for her?

There is a killer on the loose. He started his killing spree on Valentine’s Day by killing a young girl at her Valentine’s Day dance at school. She had wandered outside away from the crowd and been killed by him then. He always leaves behind a bouquet of red roses that is shaped like a heart. How does he have the money to always leave behind such an expensive sign that he is the killer? Is he the only killer, or have others copied him? And why are people being killed?

How about a story for children? This one isn’t exactly based on the picture, but what would happen if Cupid really existed? He would fly around shooting people with his arrows to make them love each other, and everything is wonderful. But then someone kidnaps Cupid. What does this person want for ransom?

If you have any Valentine’s Day writing prompts you would like to share, please leave them in the comments.

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  1 comment for “Valentine’s Day Origins & Writing Prompts

  1. February 13, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    “Imagine if, instead of the presentation of champagne, chocolate and roses one might think of true love as the gift of a long-suffering, gentle and gracious soul.”
    This is in my latest blog (on Valentine’s Day and true love). A prompt perhaps?–HR (

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