The history of Valentine’s Day dates back to ancient Rome, where it was a pagan festival called Lupercalia. Held in mid-February and celebrated as a symbol of fertility and love, Lupercalia was dedicated to the twin infants Romulus and Remus. They founded the city of Rome, but there was a conflict between the two brothers over who would rule the city. The myth ends with Romulus killing Remus and establishing himself as the first king of Rome. Despite the tragic end of their relationship, the myth of Remus and Romulus serves as a reminder of the power of brotherly love and the important role that relationships between family members and loved ones have played throughout history. 

Urbs Roma Commemorative Coin Mini | Source: Banknote World

Coins With Ties to Valentine’s Day

This bronze coin from 330-346 AD shows Romulus and Remus being reared by a she-wolf on the obverse. The flip side depicts the portrait of the goddess Roma. 

Maria Saal Dom – Grabrelief Romulus und Remus | Source: Wikipedia

The history of Valentine’s Day took a new turn when a priest named Saint Valentine was martyred during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II.

Father of Valentine’s Day: Bronze Coin of Roman Emperor Claudius II | Source: Banknote World

This bronze coin features Emperor Claudius II Gothicus on the obverse while the reverse depicts inscriptions and iconography. According to legend, Claudius II believed that unmarried soldiers made better soldiers, so he banned marriages. However, Saint Valentine continued to perform secret marriages for soldiers and their sweethearts, which eventually led to his arrest and execution. Saint Valentine was executed on February 14th, and the Catholic Church later named him a saint. 

Europe 600 Euro Sex Novelty / Fantasy Issue / Valentine’s Day | Source: Banknote World

Banknotes With Modern Traits

Over time, the celebration of Saint Valentine became associated with love and represented with a heart. The obverse of this non-legal tender Europe 600 Euro Eros Sex Novelty banknote shows love hearts lining up in a circle, along with naked men. Its reverse depicts 16 hearts forming one heart. 

Hearts and flowers have become synonymous with Valentine’s Day | Source: Pixabay

Another famous symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid, the Roman god of love and desire, who is often depicted as a chubby cherub with wings, a bow, and an arrow. Cupid is said to shoot arrows of love and also desire into the hearts of people, bringing them together in love. 

Weimar 75 Pfennig 3 Pieces Notgeld Set | 1921 | Source: Banknote World

These 75 pfennig banknotes issued by the City of Weimar in Thuringia in 1921. They feature a cherub and winged horses on their obverse. The reverse of these emergency paper bills depicts scenes of a crowd.  

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