So start my “A little History Series” I thought we might look into Valentines Day I have dug up a bit of trivia about this oh-so Loved Up day.
Every February 14, across many part’s of the world, card’s and gift’s are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious Valentine? and where did these traditions come from?
THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE
The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint is surround by mystery and intrigue. So February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and love but it’s not all about the gift’s, flowers and card’s it’s original state of St Valentines Day was full of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
But who was Saint Valentine? and more importantly how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend say’s that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. The then Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Well obviously Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
There are many other stories about how Valentine died but there are just too many to mention for my little segment so there is a link at the bottom of the page that may be interesting for those who wish to learn more.
ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY
There is two version’s of what some people believe valentine’s day is all about about, some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270. And other’s believe that Valentine’s Day was created by the Christian church who may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman goddess of agriculture which was celebrated at Ides which is thought to be February 15.
The Festival of Lupercalia : The Luperci (an order of Roman priests) would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY OF ROMANCE
Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
“Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…” Charles, Duck of Orleans 1415
Did You Know?
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
The earliest surviving valentines in English appears to be those in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston.
“my right well-beloved Valentine” Margery Brewes 1477
Valentine’s Day is mentioned ruefully by Ophelia in Hamlet (1600–1601) Below :
“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
“All the Ayre is thy Diocese
And all the chirping Queristers
And other birds ar thy parishioners
Thou marryest every yeare
The Lyrick Lark, and the graue whispering Doue,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for loue,
The houshold bird with the redd stomacher
Thou makst the Blackbird speede as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon
The Husband Cock lookes out and soone is spedd
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine
This day which might inflame thy selfe old Valentine.”
The verse Roses are red echoes conventions traceable as far back as Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590) Below :
“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.”
The modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784) below :
“The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”