1 Jun 2015 13:07:57
Many people send cards and flowers for Valentine’s Day but where does this tradition actually come from?
Of course nobody needs an excuse to say ‘I love you’, but why is 14 Feb. singled out to be the day of romance? Is it just a commercial fad?
Actually, Valentine’s Day dates back to Roman times, to a pagan fertility celebration, the festival of Lupercalia. Christianity had the tendency of taking over more ancient festivals, why get rid of a fun celebration if you can simply call it by a new name?
The day was named St Valentine’s Day in 496, in memory of the martyrdom of St Valentine. In fact, there were at least three St Valentine’s in different parts of the world and all were said to be martyred on 14 February.
The legend goes that one of these St Valentine’s performed marriage ceremonies against the wishes of the Emperor who thought that unmarried men made better soldiers. This was found out and Valentine was put to death. In another legend, Valentine was imprisoned and fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he died, he sent her a letter, ‘from your Valentine’.
In a different version, Valentine refused to renounce his religion, a form of Christian love. For this reason he was killed.
It’s not very romantic to let the truth get in the way of a good story, so we’ll just have to take it as it is...
The poet Chaucer wrote a poem in 1381 in honour of the engagement between King Richard ll and his Queen-to-be, Anne of Bohemia.
Since then St Valentine’s Day has definitely been associated with love and gifts have been exchanged. To start off with, hand-made cards were given, decorated with ribbon and lace. These days, mass produced cards are used.
If you want to give something special for Valentine’s Day, why not send your Valentine flowers decorated with your message on a satin ribbon?