For many Valentine’s Day is associated with candy hearts, cards with anonymous declarations of love, romantic dinners and red roses, but its history is far more gruesome with beheadings, martyred saints and pagan rituals.
The History of Valentine’s Day
The origins of Valentine’s Day remain lost in the mists of time. Some historians believe that the day’s origins date back to Roman times. The ancient pagan feast of Lupercalia was held from February 13th to February 15th.
Those within the Catholic Church are in the opinion that the day was named after one of 3 martyred saints; all named Valentine. Popular belief is that it is Saint Valentine of Terni, who was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II on February 14th 278 A.D. for secretly continuing to perform marriage ceremonies when the practice was outlawed by the emperor in an attempt to encourage men to join the army. It is believed that before he was beheaded, he left a farewell note “From your Valentine”.
In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius declared 14th of February as a feast day of St Valentine, it is unsure whether this was to honour a saint or to “Christianise” the pagan ritual.
The day readily gained popularity through the 19th century thanks in the main to the printing press and cheaper postage. In the US in the 1840s, Esther A Howland began selling the 1st mass produced greetings cards with Hallmark entering the scene in 1913. Today it is estimated that those romantics among us send out approximately 145 million cards each year around the world.
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spend some quality time with the one you love, so are we still romantics at heart or is commercialisation sounding the death knoll of this declaration of love.
What used to be a sentimental tradition with valentine cards sent anonymously; by children as well as adults, has become more of an affirmation of relationships.
Valentine’s Day after Christmas is the most lucrative time of the year. To the more cynical among us, it seems that everyone is jumping on the exploitation band waggon from travel agents, hoteliers, restaurateurs and venues to those retailers selling chocolate, flowers, jewellery and greeting cards.
Did you know that it is supposedly said that the first bird a single woman sees on the morning of Valentine’s Day dictates the type of man you are to marry? No! Well in what sounds like a desperate effort to drum up tourism Worcestershire is promoting bird watching as a cure for lonely unmarried women. Having apparently consulted the experts (no we have no idea who they are) if you see a blackbird then your husband will be a vicar, if it’s an owl he will be an academic but for those lucky ones sighting a kingfisher means he will be rich. What you don’t want to see is a woodpecker because it means you won’t get married at all.
Even the media are in on the act running dozens of articles each year on what to do, where to go and even on how to behave and what to eat.
Still, Valentine’s Day is the 1 day a year that you can go all out and spoil your partner rotten and remains the people’s favourite day for proposing marriage.
Need some ideas on where to go to celebrate the big day:
All said and done remember Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about how much money people spend or the cards they give but the attention you exchange. So go hug your other half and tell them that are appreciated and loved and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.