Cupid: the symbol of Valentine's Day

Do you know the mythological origin of Cupid and his relationship with love and Valentine's Day? Find out who the representative image of February 14th is.



The mythological origin of Cupid, god of love

There is one image which comes to mind when we think of Valentine's Day. A chubby little boy with wings, with a bow, arrows and quiver. That cherub isn't St Valentine, so who is he? This is Cupid.

According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of fertility, beauty and love. However, according to various legends Cupid's father varies between Mars, Jupiter and Vulcan. Cupid is considered to be the god of romantic desire. The equivalent of Cupid in Greek mythology was Eros.

In Greek etymology, Cupid means desires, cravings or passion.

Who is Cupid

According to legend, Cupid had two kinds of arrows: one grants love and the other forgetfulness. So, it is said that Cupid can join couples together, but he can also separate them. According to Roman mythology, Cupid's mother Venus gave him the bow and arrows. The arrows had two types of points: some of them were gold, which he used to grant love, and the others were led, with which he could sow ingratitude, hate and forget.

Cupid is sometimes depicted with a blindfold, representing the idea that true love comes from the soul and not from the physical or that, while love lasts, neither lover sees any flaws in the other.

Cupid and Valentine's Day

As the god of love, Cupid has come to be associated with Valentine's Day, which is believed to have originally been a pagan holiday which became Christianised.  In ancient Rome people worshipped the god of love - Eros or the Romans’ Cupid. But why is it celebrated almost everywhere on February 14th?

It is celebrated on February 14th to commemorate the Roman priest, St Valentine (3rd century), who was executed on that day for disobeying the orders of Emperor Claudius II and holding secret wedding ceremonies for young soldiers. Claudius II forbade it because he thought that unmarried men without children made better soldiers. Valentine, as a bishop, refused to accept the decree of the emperor because he thought it was unfair and challenged him. What he did was to promote marriage between couples in love, marrying them in his church. For this he was arrested, stoned and beheaded. Some time later he was beatified, and February 14 was established as St Valentine's Day, the patron saint of lovers.