February 14, the day for lover's! Have you ever wondered why or when this tradition started? I did! So I did some research on the subject and will share it with you.
A little history:
St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend says that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. 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.
Another legend says that Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself, while in prison. The legend holds that Valentine fell in love with a young girl, possibly his jailor's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, supposedly he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine'.
Some scholars talk about the presence of yet another Saint Valentine related to Valentine's Day celebration of February 14. This Valentine was a Bishop residing in Interamna (today known as Terni) in Italy in the Third Century. He is said to have dedicated his life to the Christian community of Terni, becoming the first Bishop of the town. People adored Bishop Valentine and the fame of his holiness and miracles reached Rome. Valentine's was also linked with love because he is believed to be the first religious personage to oversee the celebration of marriage between a pagan man and a Christian woman. This Saint Valentine is believed to have been scourged, imprisoned and beheaded by Placidus, Prefect of Interanma. The relic bones of this Saint Valentine are housed in a basilica in Terni. To commemorate the saint, every year on February 14, the town of Terni hosts exhibitions, fairs and cultural events.
The truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Some believe that Valentines Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial. Others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
During the festival, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.
Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine's Day — should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine 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 following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.
In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
In oden times, some people believed that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.
The heart is the most common symbol of romantic love. Ancient cultures believed the human soul lived in the heart and its red color is though to be the most romantic.
The red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Since red stands for strong feelings, red rose is a flower of love.
The first Valentine's Day box of chocolates was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.
In Wales, wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on Valentine’s Day. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favorite Valentine decorations on the wooden spoons that meant, "You unlock my heart!"
Cupid is a symbol of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was associated with Valentine’s Day because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards and gift tokens holding a bow and arrows as he is believed to use magical arrows to arouse feelings of love.
On February 14th wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on Valentine’s Day in Wales. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favorite Valentine decorations on the wooden spoons. This Valentine decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"
The most beautiful and incredible gift of love is the monument Taj Mahal in India. Built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife it stands as the emblem of the eternal love story. Work on the Taj Mahal began in 1634 and continued for almost 22 years and required the labor of 20,000 workers from all over India and Central Asia.
In America, the pilgrims used to sent confections, such as sugar wafers, marzipan, sweetmeats and sugar plums, to their affianced. Lot of value was placed on these gifts because they included what was then a rare product, sugar. After the late 1800's, beet sugar became widely used and more available, and sweet gifts continued to be cherished and enjoyed.
In the Middle Ages young men and women drew the names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned on their sleeves for one week. This was done so that it becomes easy for other people to know your true feelings. This was known as "to wear your heart on your sleeve".
Cupid has long played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. He is known as a mischievous, winged child, whose arrows who would pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's he was Cupid, and his mother Venus. As legend has it, Cupid fell in love with a mortal maiden named Psyche. Cupid married Psyche, but Venus, jealous of Psyche's beauty, forbade her daughter-in-law to look at Cupid. Psyche, of course, couldn't resist temptation and sneaked a peek at her handsome husband. As punishment, Venus demanded that she perform three hard tasks, the last of which caused Psyche's death. Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods, moved by their love, granted Pysche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul. (Isn't that a great story!!?)
In the 17th century a hopeful maiden ate a hard-boiled egg and pinned five bay leaves to her pillow before going to sleep on Valentine's eve. It was believed this would make her dream of her future husband.
The oldest surviving love poem is written in a clay tablet from the times of the Sumerians, inventors of writing, around 3500 B.C. It was unromantically named Istanbul #2461 by the archeologists who unearthed it.
Wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was believed that the vein of love ran from this finger directly to the heart.
A ring has been included in wedding ceremonies since the 12th century. Pope Innocent the Third ordained that marriages had to take place in church and that a wedding ring should be exchanged during the service.
Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentines Day candy box in the late 1800s.
Unforgettable Love Quotes
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."
- Helen Keller
"One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is Love."
"If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever."
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
"The more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite."
"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies."
"Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul."
"Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile."
and my favorite
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
Go back to the first page of the website:
Information websites: history.com, festivals.iloveindia.com, mydearvalentine.com, corsinet.com, theromantic.com, care2.com, stvalentinesday.org, and wsaz.com
Backgrounds and icons: valentinejoys.com, hellasmultimedia.com, and fg-a.com