The origin of Valentine's Day has nothing to do with love and everything to do with "torturous martyrdom." Originally, the feast day of St. Valentine honored a pair of third century martyrs by the name of Valentine who were elevated to sainthood in the early middle ages. Both Valentines, one the Bishop of Terni and the other a priest in Rome, were allegedly decapitated by their persecutors on February 14.
There was no link between St. Valentine's Day and love until the 14th century. At that time, some scholars claim that Chaucer associated Valentine's Day with lovers by describing it as the day on which birds select their mates. More plausibly the tradition of expressing love on Valentine's Day comes from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility rite honoring Lupercus, the Roman version of the Greek god Pan, held on February 15. Typically, the medieval church would try to combine saints' feast days with pagan festivals, to boost Church loyalty and participation.

Whatever the reasons, by the 1500s the link between Valentine's Day, courtship, and love was established. As the religious meanings of the day faded, its amorous meanings grew.

Rituals emerged in Europe in the 1600s and 1700s to divine future spouses on Valentine's Day. Some young people went to churchyards at midnight to await an omen. But drawing lots was the most common practice of divination. It was a ceremony where lots were drawn which they termed Valentines. The names of a select number of one sex, and an equal number of the other were put into a vessel. Every one drew a name, which was called their Valentine.

The "drawing lots" ceremony could get ugly, and vicious. In France this celebration of the lottery of love became fractious. In France once the valentines had been chosen, the woman prepared a meal for the man, and they attended a public dance. If the man was displeased, he would leave her, and she would remain in seclusion for eight days.