Every year on 14th February, most of the Western world observes a custom called Saint Valentine’s Day. They celebrate with flowers, romantic dinners, lovehearts, loving others, and other romantic events.
But what are the origins of this day and its customs? Is this something that Christians should celebrate or should Christians avoid this holiday?
If we, as Christians, are supposed to love other people, should we not get into celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day? Or is love something other than what people think it is on Valentine’s Day?
First we must look to see if we can find Valentine’s Day in the Bible. Is there any command to celebrate such a day? If we look through the Holy Days and Feasts that God commands in Leviticus 23, we do not see any mention of such a day. Nowhere in Scripture can we find a command to celebrate a day of romance, nor anything at this time of year.
We need to look back in history to see the origins of the day and where its customs came from.
There was an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia that was celebrated from 13th to 15th of February. It was a purification and fertility ceremony. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. It was held in honour of Lupercus, the winter wolf and pagan god of agriculture and shepherds. The Luperci priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification, in this cave, located on Palatine Hill — the place where Rome was founded.
They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year.
The goatskins were called februa, which means to make clean and from which the name of the month “February” derives.
Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman.
So this explains, in part, some of the origins of the day. So why did they choose that part of the month and that day?
At one time, Roman calendar started the year in March. Thus February was originally the 12th month of the year, and considered less important, hence the month of February had been robbed by the Caesars and had only 28 days. This is also why we add a day to make February have 29 days in leap years, as it was originally adding it to the end of the year.
The Romans believed that every month had a spirit or pagan god which gained in strength and reached its peak or apex of power at the Ides of the month, which was in the middle, around the 15th. These days were considered a good time to make decisions, when the omens were good, and people would be blessed in their decisions by the pagan gods of Rome.
Thus the “Ides of February” became the 14th day of that month, as it was shorter. Since the Ides of a month was celebrated on the preceding eve, the month of February was unique, because it was the 13th day that became the eve of the Ides that month, and it became a very important pagan holiday in the Empire of Rome.
It was on the Ides that witches and augurs, i.e. soothsayers, worked their magic. An “augur” was a person filled with a spirit of divination, and from the root-word augur we also get the word “inaugurate”, which means to “take omens”.
Look in Leviticus 19:26 to read what God says about that: “You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying” (NKJV).
So we see that God does not want us to be involved with divination or soothsaying, which was practised in ancient Rome at the time of the middle of the month, especially in things like Valentine’s Day.
But how did it come to be called Saint Valentine’s Day rather than Lupercalia?
It was in A.D. 496 that Pope Gelasius established St. Valentine’s Day in an attempt to convert this pagan Roman fertility festival into a Christian holiday, thus retaining its attractions and making it easier for pagan people to accept Christianity. Of course, we must remember that the Catholic Church was not Christian at all, it just took Christian practices and tried to establish itself as the continuation of the true Church, maintaining an outward appearance of being Christian but denying Christ.
Now it is unclear though as to which Valentine was being honoured by this day by Pope Gelasius, since there were three men named Valentine who tradition has it were martyred on 14th February.
Also we are told in the Bible that all true Christians, those who have the Holy Spirit, are the saints (e.g. Jude 1:3), and that we should not worship any saint or any special saint’s day.
In Acts 14:11–18 we read how the Apostles Paul and Barnabas were being idolised by people, and Paul told them not to do that.
We are told in the Ten Commandments that we must not worship any other god than the true God, which includes not worshipping people in any way.
So after the Pope made Saint Valentine’s Day a “Christian” holiday, some of its customs were changed, such as people drawing out names at random of different saints to honour for a year, which was just another form of idolatry.
During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that the 14th of February was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
So regardless of what the Catholic Church has taught, the idea of romance and desire continues to be associated with Valentine’s Day.
The Connection with Nimrod
But in regards to its origins, if we just think that it was started by the Romans we are wrong. The Romans were continuing to celebrate a day in honour of someone who lived much earlier.
We are told in Genesis 10:8–10 that the first world ruler was called Nimrod, a mighty hunter who also built Babylon and the Tower of Babel: “Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” (NKJV)
From other historical sources we learn more about Nimrod. He was also known as Saturn, the Roman-Babylonian god who HID from his pursuers in a secret place. The Latin word Saturn is derived from the Semitic-speaking Babylonians. It means “to be hid, hide self, secret, conceal”.
According to ancient tradition, Saturn (i.e. Nimrod) fled from his pursuers to Italy. The Apennine Mountains of Italy were anciently named the mountains of Nimrod. Nimrod briefly hid out at the site where Rome was later built. The ancient name of Rome, before it was rebuilt in 753 B.C., was Saturnia — the site of Saturn’s (i.e. Nimrod’s) hiding. There he was found and slain for his crimes, by Shem, son of Noah.
Later, in Constantine’s day, Nimrod was made a saint of the Catholic Church, and they continued to honour him under the name of a Christian martyr called St. Valentine.
We should also consider that the name Valentine has as its root the word valens, which means strength in Latin. Valentine was someone strong, like a “mighty hunter”.
In Rome at one time “Valentine” was called “Ba’alentine” to commemorate “Ba’al” the god of sexual desire, and another name for Satan or a demon. Now we can see the connection between Valentine’s Day and ancient Babylon. Valentine’s Day is another custom birthed at the Tower of Babel, which is why the Roman Papacy has made Saint Valentine’s Day an official Roman Catholic holiday.
The Catholic Church also believes that the Pope is the living reincarnation of Nimrod, the world’s first ruler, hence their desire to make the Pope the Emperor of the whole world. So it is no surprise that the Catholic Church should celebrate a day related to Nimrod and thus the Pope.
Nimrod (known as Ba’al and the sun-god of the ancient pagans) was said to have been born at the Winter solstice. In ancient times the solstice occurred on 6th of January and his birthday therefore was celebrated on that day. Later, as the solstice changed, it was celebrated on 25th December. It was the custom of antiquity for the mother of a male child to present herself for purification on the 40th day after the day of birth.
The 40th day after 6th January takes us to 15th February, the celebration of which began on the evening of 14th February, i.e. Lupercalia — St. Valentine’s Day.
On this day in February in the ancient world, Semiramis, the mother of Nimrod, was said to have been purified and to have appeared for the first time in public with her son as the original “mother and child” — images of which continue to be popular in the Catholic Church and other pagan imagery.
Another name for Nimrod as a child was “Cupid” which means “desire”. It is said that when Nimrod’s mother saw him, she lusted after him — she desired him. Nimrod became her Cupid, her desired one, and later her Valentine! So evil was Nimrod’s mother Semiramis that she married her own son!
In ancient Egypt Nimrod was known as Osiris, and Semiramis was known as Isis. Inscribed on the ancient Egyptian monuments are inscriptions that Osiris, i.e. Nimrod was “the husband of his mother”.
As Nimrod grew up, he became the child-hero of many women who desired him. He was their Cupid! In Daniel 11:37, there is a reference to the “desire of women” which may refer to Nimrod.
Nimrod was also known as Ba’al as mentioned already, and the ancient word for heart was bal, which is similar to Ba’al. Hence we have the significance of the heart used in the celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day — it is a reference going back to the worship of Nimrod and women desiring Nimrod.
So What Does All This Mean for Us as Christians?
Look at Deuteronomy 12:30–31 which tells us how God expected His people to behave: “Do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods.” (NKJV)
The things associated with Saint Valentine’s Day, i.e. romance, desire, sexual lust, Cupid, Roman paganism, fertility, the heart shapes, and the calendar date, are all connected anciently with the worship of Nimrod, and other pagan practices that God hates.
There is no valid reason for us to celebrate a pagan day, which we could call Nimrod’s Day rather than Valentine’s Day.
Of course, we should still love, as God is love, but love is not to be confused with romance. Romance is a feeling, whereas love is a way of life.
God is love and we should emulate God’s love, rather than something called romance. Romance is more connected with things that are exciting or mysterious, and emotions, which are easily influenced by things we cannot control. It is said that Cupid causes people to fall in love — or rather in romance — so that he can laugh at their stupidity. Not that it is wrong to be romantic at times with the right person, so long as the motives are good and not selfish, but our main focus in any relationship has to be love, and specifically the true love of God, that God gives to us through the Holy Spirit.
So we should not, as Christians, celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, nor indulge in worshipping Nimrod, nor anything else connected with ancient Babylon. We should instead follow God and His ways of love, which means having concern for others rather than selfish feelings.
About the author: David King is a member of Church of God International in the United Kingdom, having attended with the Church of God for over 30 years.