If you want to keep believing that Feb 14th is a 'romantic day', don't read this.
The next time somebody says "happy valentine's day" to me today, I swear to god I will kick them... Yeah I did just break it off with my girlfriend (2 days back actually), but that's got nothing to do with it anyway.
Has nobody done any research on the history of "Valentine's Day"...? Well, apparently not. Not only can the exact date of this supposed 'romantic holiday' not be determined, but the closest theories regarding this holiday involve some not-so-nice aspects.
In one theory, there was a bishop named Valentine who arranged secret marriage ceremonies for couples during the reign of the Roman Empire. Claudius the second ordered his execution, on Feb 14th. Bottom line? He died... In fact, there are three other similar stories with people named Valentine that died, supposedly on Feb 14th.
The act of gift-giving and 'secret love' is a social misconception for the memory of a rebel. Which one...? I don't know, pick one.. There are half a dozen that fit the profile from various different centuries, ranging from 400BC to the 18th century.
My favourite of all "Valentine's Day" theories though, would have to be the flip side of the theory from the Roman Empire period. The 13th to 15th of February was the Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia (depends on translation), the short version of this story is that this was a "fertility festival".
According to known history, the whole 'restoring health and and life', 'warding off evil', and a few other key points originate from the Romans subsuming the festival of Lupercalia with the fesitval of Februa (this also gave rise to the name February, by the way). The festival of Februa was a cleansing festival, especially since the rainy season in Rome is apparently most prominent in February.
So let's see, what does February 14th represent...? Martyrs (i.e.: willing to die), mass orgies (STDs anyone?), secret marriages (for fear of execution) and rainy weather. Yay. That's so damn romantic.
To use a concept from one of the most brilliantly constructed movies of all time, "perhaps instead of acting like sheep when it comes to history and belief, you should find out for yourself." (The original quote can be found here). So, instead of taking people word as fact (when more often than not it's mere folklore), do some damn research and find out the facts for yourself.
And I say it again, I will kick any person that says "Happy Valentines Day" in the shin. Really hard.