Valentine’s Day, more than just a holiday

By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter

Mystery has always shrouded the origins of the famous lovers’ holiday, possibly because the Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named either Valentine or Valentinus. This is part of the reason Valentine’s Day has many different origin stories, none of which can be confirmed as the one that started what is now one of the most celebrated holidays.

One of the famous origin stories claims that during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, single men were viewed as better soldiers than those with wives and children. Therefore, marriage was outlawed for young men. Valentine, however, felt this decree was unjust, and continued to perform marriages for young couples in love. When the emperor discovered this, Valentine was put to death.

Whether or not this or one of the many other origin stories is the true start to Valentine’s Day is anyone’s guess. Nevertheless, Feb. 14, for whatever reason, has become an anniversary of sorts. According to, in 2010 Feb. 14 was the number one ranked day for weddings on a single date. Even without an anniversary on this lover’s holiday, it has become the day most people profess their love to their significant others.

While love is all fine and dandy, here are some other events from history that happened on this famous holiday.

Lovingly known as the home of some of the most famous viral videos and funny cat clips, YouTube revolutionized video sharing by creating a site with which you could upload and share videos.This iconic website was founded on Feb. 14 in 2005 by three former PayPal employees who would later sell the site to Google for $1.65 billion in November of 2006.

After extensive restoration efforts to return the White House to its former glory, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, on Feb. 14, took television viewers on a tour to show some of the improvements she had orchestrated.

In 1929, tension was particularly high between the rival North Side and South Side gangs of Chicago, led by George “Bugs” Moran and Al Capone respectively. Instances of Moran interfering with Capone’s dog track business, his occupancy of many of Capone’s saloons, and general rivalry between the two over who would gain complete control of the bootlegging business in Chicago were all probable factors that contributed to what became known as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The supposed plan for Feb. 14 was to lure Moran to a warehouse with the promise of discounted stolen liquor. Members of the South Side gang who had been entrusted with the killing of Moran descended on the warehouse when they thought they saw him finally enter. However, who they thought was Moran was actually Albert Weinshank who looked very similar to Moran and was, incidentally, dressed very much like him on that day.

Dressed as two civilians and two police officers, four members of the South Side gang entered the building and opened fire on the North Side gang members and their two affiliates. After heavily spraying their victims with gunfire and shooting both John May and James Clark in the face, the two men dressed as civilians left with their hands held high in surrender as the two dressed as Cops followed them with shotguns, giving the impression that the four had merely had a shootout inside the warehouse, and nothing more.

Despite being shot approximately 14 times, Frank Gusenberg survived the massacre long enough to tell officials that “I’m not talking” before he finally passed away from his wounds.

On a more patriotic note, Arizona became the 48th state in America on Feb. 14, 1912. Oregon would beat Arizona to the infamous date, however, when they became the 33rd state in 1859, and James Knox Polk made history as the first President to have his picture taken on Feb. 14, 1849.