Valentine’s Day has a surprisingly grim and dark history

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Ask anyone what colour they associate Valentine's Day with and chances are they'll say red – the colour sparks connotations with everything from roses to love hearts, but the reason behind why the colour red and Valentine's Day are so intertwined could have a far more sinister undertone.

Though the day is often spent exchanging gifts such as chocolates, roses and cuddly toys, the holiday has a rather dark past.

Here is everything you need to know about the dark history of Valentine's Day.

Why is it called Valentine's Day?

The holiday actually acknowledges the date of the execution of St Valentine by the Roman emperor Claudius II during the third century AD.

St Valentine was killed in cold blood as a result of the fact he was alleged to have been officiating at the weddings of soldiers, despite the fact that marriage had been outlawed for them.

This was because emperor Claudius II deemed things like love and romance as tell-tale signs of weaker soldiers.

Why is February 14 Valentine's Day?

This date has a complicated relationship with the colour red due to things like blood long before the execution of St Valentine.

Over the course of a three day period between February 13-15, Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia by sacrificing a goat and a dog before whipping naked women with the hides with the aim of making the women more fertile.

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Plenty of years later, in the fifth century AD, Pope Gelasius I made Lupercalia illegal and declared the date February 14 as the feast of St Valentine, which would later go on to become what is now known as Valentine's Day.

February 14 throughout the years

Over the course of time, February 14 has actually bared witness to some pretty gruesome atrocities that are a far cry from the kind of things we usually associate the holiday with.

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February 14 1929 saw the infamous Valentine's Day massacre on the north side of Chicago as notorious gangster Al Capone killed seven rivals.

The date was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons as recently as 2013 when superstar Paralympian Oscar Pistorius shot and killed then-girlfriend and model Reeva Steenkamp.

In 2018, Valentine's Day was scarred by a school shooting in the United States which saw 17 people murdered by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

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