St Valentines Day – When did it start and where did it come from?
Love has always been a many splendoured things even before St Valentines Day became a popular occasion to officially celebrate it. But what are its origins? With the official symbol of St Valentine being cupid – son of Venus – The Goddess of Love and Beauty, let’s look into the history of this oh so special day…..because by the mid-1820’s an estimated 200,000 Valentines greetings circulated each year in London alone.
There is more than one version of the origin of the day. In ancient Rome, it may have been connected with the celebration of the coming of Spring in a festival called Lupercalia. But during the emergence of St Valentines Day, there is also a history of secret weddings and martyrdoms. In Lupercalia, women are said to have written their names on clay and put them in a jar from which men randomly drew them pairing up couples. The festival was also designed to ward off demons and evil spirits.
As early as the 1300’s the poet Chaucer allegedly wrote of St Valentines Day in his poem, “Parliament of Foules” when birds come together to choose their mates. It gets confusing when one is informed that St Valentine was the Patron Saint of Beekeepers but he may have been. However the secret weddings and trysts he set up led Emperor Claudius II to imprison him as he found his soldiers, once they were paired up with a female mate, apparently performed less well in their duties! Of course, many perform much better when they have a mate to look after them.
The imprisonment of the man who performed the pairings for couples led him to fall in love with the Jailer’s daughter to whom he wrote of his love before his alleged death sentence. It is said that Pope Gelasius later named February 14 a Christian Feast Day.
So the true origins of St Valentine’s Day are steeped in mystery and in history, as he has also been identified as a Priest from Rome. St Valentine may have been some or all of these people. It is with comfort and love and jollity that we celebrate and each year, the cards available are inscribed to friends, family, loved ones, and all combinations of those people. So ENJOY your DAY. With lots of love.
Penny Nair Price