Valentine’s Day; a day filled with hearts, chocolates and last-minute gas station gift shopping. Where elementary school kids drop off tiny, overpriced cards to their classmates, hoping that their crush put a little heart next to their name. But where did Valentine’s Day come from? Did the marketing industry really invent it?

The answer is more complicated than it may appear. The history of Valentine’s Day dates back centuries, long before the marketing industry was even conceived. It is believed that Valentine’s Day originated in ancient Rome, when people celebrated the feast of Lupercalia—a spring fertility festival—on February 15th. During this festival, young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box and then be paired off with them for one year as partners in celebration. This practice eventually evolved into the modern concept of exchanging valentines cards or presents with loved ones on February 14th.

However, while the origins of Valentine’s Day may have been around long before marketers got involved, it was not until much later that popular culture began to embrace it as a romantic holiday. This began in the Middle Ages with courtly love—the idea that romantic love could be chivalrous and noble—as well as during Victorian times when exchanging cards became more common.

It was during this time period that marketers began to capitalize on this newfound popularity and started introducing products associated with Valentine’s Day such as chocolates, flowers and jewelry. They also used advertising campaigns to promote these products and encourage consumers to buy them for their loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Over time, these strategies proved successful and helped make Valentine’s Day into what it is today: a widely celebrated holiday associated with expressing one’s love through gifts or cards.

So while it may be true that marketers had some influence in popularizing Valentine’s Day, they did not invent it; rather they simply took advantage of its popularity in order to sell their products. As such, we can concede that while the marketing industry may have had some impact on how we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, its origins are far older than any modern-day commercialization attempts.