it’s as “Corny as Kansas”, but women are, in fact, for the most part, swept away by romance. Give us dinner, flowers and candy with something sparkly and we are impressed.
In searching out the history facts, and folklore, I expected to find some very romantic story that set a part Valentines Day as the great celebration time of romance. Instead I found, like so many other traditions, it all began with a simple day of remembrance, but was added upon by generations of time and other cultures, to become the holiday we know today.
It seems, there was more than one St. Valentine, but most experts agree, that the holiday originated from St. Valentine of Rome, who was martyred February 14, 269 A.D. for refusing to give up Christianity.
Most of the story comes from the medieval times writings, Legenda Surea. It is not known whether the old legend is pure fact or has been romanticized some. We know it is based on fact.
During the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II, engagements and marriages were forbidden. He was a ruler with many bloody and unpopular campaigns. He needed soldiers for his military, and didn’t have enough volunteers. He believed it was because of Christianity, Love and Marriage. Men without loves, children and beliefs were more willing to die. Claudius canceled all marriages and engagements in Rome. St. Valentine of Rome, still secretly performed marriages and was imprisoned for it. He was interrogated by Claudius II, himself, and given the choice to convert to Roman Paganism or die. He not only refused, but tried to convert the Roman leader to Christianity. It is said that before he was executed, he performed a miracle, by healing the blind daughter of the jailer, whom he had befriended. It is said that he left her a note and signed it “from your Valentine”.
WOW! If you add a little more fluff and a few more romantic pieces, you could get a good movie out of this.
In ancient Rome, February 15th began the Feast of Lupercalia. This festival honored JUNO, the Queen of the Gods and the goddess of women and marriage. One of the customs of the young people during this celebration was the drawing of names. Boys and girls were kept strictly separate, except of the eve of the festival of Lupercalia. Each young man would draw a girl’s name from the jar and then would be partners during the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of children lasted for the entire year; sometimes they would fall in love and later marry. Pastors of early Christianity did away with this pagan holiday, but later chose St. Valentines Day to be the “celebration of the new feast”.
There was a similar ancient Jewish tradition; the day of Au Tu B’AV (usually in late August) also called the festival of love. Young men would wait in the vineyards; the girls would enter in their white dresses for the dancing. I’m sure that was the beginning of PROM NIGHT. In modern day culture it is a popular day to give gifts, pronounce love or propose marriage.
In medieval times, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentine would be. They would wear the name on their sleeve for one week, which is where the old saying came from Wearing your heart on your sleeve, now means that it is easy for others to know how you are feeling.
In Wales, wooden love spoons were carved with hearts, keys and keyholes and given as gifts on the 14th. The message was that “you unlock my heart”.
Paper valentines became so popular in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy valentines were made of real lace and ribbons. Paper lace was introduced by the middle of the 19th century. By the second half of the 20th century, a typical valentine’s gift included roses and chocolates in a red satin heart shaped box. Diamonds were not a part of the holiday celebration until the diamond industry started promoting giving jewelry as a valentine tradition in the 1980’s.
Today we give not only gifts and cards of love and affection, but also generic, platonic, greetings of Happy Valentines Day.
So, go out and spread around a little more love and affection and don’t try to do it all in one day. Take the whole year!