February 14th. It is the day that makes men around the world nervous and women full of romantic anticipation. It is Valentine’s day, the worldwide holiday of Love! Every February, across the country, chocolates, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?
The history of Valentine’s Day and its patron saint Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery. St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains parts of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred, but none of whom were associated with roses OR chocolate.
Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. During this time, around 270 A.D., emperor Claudius ll prohibited marriages for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Because if they didn’t have wives or family to worry about they wouldn’t be distracted in battle. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually caught by the Romans and Claudius ordered his execution and he was put to death. But his courageous blessing of the bonds of love may have earned him a notable place in history.
Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius; fell in love with the daughter of his jailer who visited him during confinement. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine” an expression that is still used today. In a way you could say this marked the very first Valentine’s Day.
Possibly the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine and his day is one not focused on Eros(passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Subsequently, his love for his god may have gone down in history.
Our final possibility for the origins our holiday: It could be that we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 14th because this is the day that St. Valentine died. However, some believe that the celebration of Valentine’s Day was an attempt by the Church to civilise the celebration of the pagan Lupercalia festival, which was traditionally held on the 15th of February. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. Because things could get a bit raunchy at the Lupercalia festival it was deemed un-Christian and was therefore outlawed by the church.
The oldest known valentine gift still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting, written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.
According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.).
The first commercial Valentine’s Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colourful pictures known as “scrap”.
But Who is Cupid then?
Another valentine icon you may be wondering about is Cupid (from the Latin cupido, “desire”). In Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros, god of love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love. The Romans believed white roses grew where the tears of Venus fell, as she mourned the loss of her beloved Adonis. Her son Cupid, while being stung by a bee, shot arrows in the rose garden; the sting of the arrows became thorns. Venus pricked her foot on a thorn, and the droplets of blood dyed the roses red.
Sending Roses on Valentine’s Day
Which brings us to the question of roses. Why should you send roses to your loved one this Valentine’s Holiday? The rose is the symbol of love, of magic, of hope, and of passion. Perfect to let your loved one know how you feel about him/her! The rose represents ultimate beauty and perfection. It is the messenger of Romance!
A dozen red roses remains the classic Valentine’s Day favourite (ok, it’s a toss up between roses and chocolate – but we all know why chocolate is). However, many women report that they adore roses in other colours just as much. There are hundreds of colours to choose from. The choices are endless and it’s easier than ever to select a rose that is as unique as your sweetheart.
Whatever your Valentine’s gift to give or receive, have fun this holiday of love. And hopefully this little bit of history added to your enjoyment!
If you’ve got a date planned for valentine and are stuck for ideas of what to do or where to go, have a look at our post on 8 great ideas for a first date and tips on what to talk about.
If you didn’t get a valentine then why not join mynaughtyfriend.com and meet up with sexy singles and couples who are looking for fun just like you.
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