A Brief History of Valentines Day History of Valentines Day
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A Brief History of Valentines Day History of Valentines Day

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    A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

    Keys Digest


    10 Feb A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

    Posted at 12:30h
    in News
    by Daniel Enriquez


    A Brief History of Valentine’s Day


    For those in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a time to show the one you love that, err, you love them.  Cards and chocolates are exchanged, intimate dinners are arranged and more early nights are had than usual.  But how did this celebration of amour come about in the first place?

    As you would expect, our modern Valentine’s Day celebration has its roots (stop it) in ancient fertility rituals and the Roman Empire’s fixation with procreation and rumpy pumpy in general.  For more years than history can reliably remember, the Roman festival of Lupercalia celebrated fertility on Febrary 15th until Pope Gelasius I decided to bring this pagan party in house and recast it as a Christian feast – St Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

    So far so good, but unfortunately the rationale of the celebration was confused somewhat by the fact that there were a number of Saint Valentine’s at the time and nobody seems dependably sure as to which one took the spot.  One was a priest in Rome, one a bishop in Terni and the third was a mysterious figure about whom little is known except that he met his demise somewhere in Africa.  However, and rather astonishingly, it seems that all three were martyred on the same day – February 14th.

    Ok.  We’ve got ourselves a patron saint for the date but Feb 14 was still just a religious festival and it wasn’t until the 14th century that Chaucer, the seemingly smut-obsessed writer, penned the poem that would forever marry Valentine’s Day to the notion of romantic love.  His 1381 work, “The Parliament of Fowls”, which celebrated the engagement of England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, put sex on the table – as it were – with his reference to the mating season of birds:

    For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
    Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make

    Nonsense right?  Well, they did speak a bit funny back in Chaucer’s day but if you translate it to modern speak there’s an unmistakeable reference to avian procreation and that’s what put the love into February 14th:

    For this was on St Valentine’s Day,
    When every fowl cometh here to choose his mate

    So that was it – a fleeting literary reference to the date and the deed – and the love link stuck.  Over the years this tenuous connection won the hearts of florists and greeting card manufacturers around the world.  By the 18th century the practice of exchanging gifts and cards on Valentine’s Day had become the commercially romantic tradition that we recognise today.

    According to the Greeting Card Association, more than one billion cards are sent every year making Valentine’s Day second only to Christmas (2.6 billion).  Interestingly women are responsible for the purchase of 85% of those cards.

    If you need any help planning any aspect of a Valentine’s treat – from gift ideas to restaurant recommendations – then get in touch with a Keys Lifestyle Manager today.

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    A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

    Entertainment  /   /  By Dean Suchy

    Home / Entertainment


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    Valentine’s Day means something different to every person. It can be a day full of love, a crude reminder that true love has always escaped you, or a day to gag at your friends’ “cute” Instagram pictures. It can also be a disappointment if someone doesn’t live up to your expectations, an excuse to drink up and hook up, or a day for someone to post how we should just love everyone every single day (that’s not actually a bad idea, but it is so cliché and annoying).

    Or it can just be another normal day.

    Like it or not, Valentine’s Day is coming. For all you Game of Thrones’ fans, picture waves of White Walkers rushing over the wall, but instead of death they bring hearts, chocolates, flowers and millions of greeting cards. Now, these are just things that are traditionally related to Valentine’s Day, but there are other ways to celebrate. The heart can be anatomically drawn for the artistic people, the chocolates can be dairy free for the vegans, the flowers can be gender neutral colors for equality, and the cards can be text messages for the people that hate the devious Hallmark for making a ton of money.

    However, let’s think back—back before Valentine’s Day became what it is today. Note that I will be using the infamous Wikipedia on this, so if I’m wrong, blame them. It originally started off as Christian day of honorance (shocker). February 14 was used to remember a certain Christian martyr who went by the name of Saint Valentine and he was rumored to be executed in part for performing weddings that were not allowed by the Roman Empire. Even if it’s not true, it’s still ironic.

    Valentine’s Day was later connected to romantic love by a poet named Geoffrey Chaucer. He wrote a poem to celebrate the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia (the rap-city). He mentioned Valentine’s Day as the day when every bird chooses his mate. (There is a disagreement about this, because apparently mid-February is not the right time for English bird mating.)

    Regardless, later the day was possibly connected to some French festivities where a court of women (obviously early feminists) would hear disputes from lovers.  From this point on, the word “Valentine” was mentioned in various literature and was usually connected with lovers sending valentines to each other, or asking to be their valentine.

    If you are still reading, you will catch the oh-so-shocking-finale of the mystery of Valentine’s Day. In 1797, some British guy decided to write some “sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.” He called it “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer.” However, since people (probably the men) were so cheap, Valentine cards did not really pick up speed until postage rates decreased. At one point, there were 3000 women employed in manufacturing these cards in something called a Cupid Manufacturer. Yada yada yada, the past is the past.

    At least we can all agree that Valentine’s Day has had an interesting history, and that it has seen some changes. It is not only the Christians or the British that celebrate this day, many people of different cultures and religions celebrate this day of love.  Some even do it regardless of governmental bans on the holiday (sad, but true). Men no longer need some other man to write Valentines cards for them, they have corporate America. Women are no longer making these cards, small children—probably in China—are doing that.

    Regardless of the past, Valentine’s Day means different things to everyone, so all I’m saying is respect what this day means to different people and have a wonderful Feb. 14.

    History love Review romance Valentine’s Day

    About the Author

    Dean Suchy

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    • A Brief History of Valentines Day

    A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

    Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world on February 14th, but how exactly did this loved-up holiday come about? If, like many other people, the only thing you know is that it’s associated somehow with a mysterious Saint Valentine, there’s plenty more you must know. Check out the lovely history of the most romantic day of the year!

    Saint Valentine was a priest who conducted marriage ceremonies (and other services) in third-century Rome. The emperor at the time was Claudius II, who had the bright idea that men would make better soldiers if they were all single. As a result of his new theory, he banned marriage for young men, prompting Valentine to strongly disagree with him.

    Rather than go along with the new law, the good-natured priest carried on with the marriage ceremonies, meaning that many young people across the country could still get married. Of course, Claudius II was appalled by this when he found out what was going on, and had poor Valentine killed off.

    It is not known for certain why we celebrate Valentine’s Day in February , although there are some interesting suggestions. The most popular is that this was the month in which Saint Valentine was martyred, although some theorists believe that it was first celebrated in February to overshadow a pagan festival. The Lupercalia celebrations involved priests, a sacred cave and sacrifices in the forms of goats and dogs . This was supposed to make the women of the city more fertile the year after, but since the Christians did not agree with this practice, it is very possible that they decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day in this month too.

    Two centuries after Valentine’s death, Pope Gelasius became the head of the Catholic Church, and decreed that February 14th should be Valentine’s Day. By now, the uprising of Christianity had well and truly gotten rid of the Lupercalia festivals, so everybody could concentrate on the day of love during this month.

    However, it wasn’t really associated with love until later on. The people of the Middle Ages believed that February 14th saw the start of the mating season for birds, and when this theory was added to the legends of Saint Valentine, it started to make sense that this day should be one on which to celebrate lovers.

    Valentine’s Day messages become increasingly popular after the year 1400, but there weren’t completely unheard of before this time. In fact, legend has it that Saint Valentine was imprisoned and sent a message to his lover signed ‘From your Valentine’. This may be highly romanticised, but if it’s true, definitely explains one of the most popular phrases seen on Valentine’s Day cards today.

    Inside London’s British Library, there is a manuscript of the first Valentine’s message which we still have on record today. Charles, Duke of Orleans, was in prison and wrote a love poem to his wife in 1415. While Saint Valentine’s message of love might be purely a legend, Charles’ tale is definitely one which is true.

    Fast-forward a few hundred years, and Valentine’s Day cards started being mass-produced in their thousands. In 1840’s America, cards were being manufactured with lace, ribbons and other pretty decorations. There are now around one billion Valentine’s Day cards purchased each year, and (you won’t be surprised to know) 85% of them are bought by women.


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    Lizzie Robinson 2018-11-29T14:18:54+00:00

    About the Author

    Lizzie Robinson

    Lizzie Robinson
    Lizzie Robinson has been a freelance writer since 2011. She studied English Literature at university and enjoys sailing & playing the piano in her free time. Lizzie enjoys writing about current issues & business.

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