|The Mysterious Valentine's
by Eric V. Allen
February 14th, the holiday of Love! Every
February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged
between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. Who is this
mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of
Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. St.
Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both
Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The Catholic Church recognizes at
least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom
were martyred - none of whom were associated with roses OR chocolate.
Most scholars believe that the St.
Valentine of the holiday was a priest who served during the third
century in Rome. During this time, around 270 A.D., emperor Claudius ll
prohibited marriages for young men, claiming that bachelors made better
soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies
but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and ordered by Claudius to
be put to death. But his courageous blessing of the bonds of love may
have earned him a notable place in history.
Another legend has it that Valentine,
imprisoned by Claudius; fell in love with the daughter of his jailer who
visited him during confinement. Before he was executed, he allegedly
sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine" an expression
that is still used today. We could say this marked the very first
Possibly the most plausible story
surrounding St. Valentine and his day is one not focused on Eros
(passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for
refusing to renounce his religion. Subsequently, his love for his god
may have gone down in history.
Our final possibility for the origins our
our holiday: It could be that we celebrate Valentines Day on the 14th
because this is the day that St. Valentine died. However, some believe
that the celebration of Valentines Day was an attempt by the Church to
civilize the celebration of the pagan Lupercalia festival - held on the
15th of February. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to
Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders
Romulus and Remus. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's
Day around 498 A.D. The Lupercalia festival was deemed un-Christian and
The oldest known valentine gift 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. The greeting,
written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British
Library in London, England. According to the Greeting Card Association,
an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making
Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An
estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) The first
commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were
created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother
of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and
colorful pictures known as "scrap".
And Who is this Cupid?
Another valentine icon you may be
wondering about is Cupid (from Latin cupido, "desire"). In
Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His
counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros, god of love. Cupid is often said
to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans
with his arrows, causing them to fall in love. The Romans believed white
roses grew where the tears of Venus fell, as she mourned the loss of her
beloved Adonis. Her son Cupid, while being stung by a bee, shot arrows
in the rose garden; the sting of the arrows became thorns. Venus pricked
her foot on a thorn, and the droplets of blood dyed the roses red.
Sending Roses on Valentine's Day
Why should you send roses to your loved
one this Valentine's Holiday? The rose is the symbol of love, of magic,
of hope, and of passion....perfect to let your loved one know how you
feel about him/her! The rose represents ultimate beauty and perfection.
It is the messenger of Romance!
A dozen red roses remains the classic
Valentine's Day favorite (ok, it's a toss up between roses and chocolate
- but we all know why chocolate is). However, many women report that
they adore roses in other colors just as much. There are hundreds of
colors to choose from. The choices are endless and it's easier than ever
to select a rose that is as unique as your sweetheart.
Whatever your Valentine's gift to give or
receive, have fun this holiday of love - may this little bit of history
add to your enjoyment!
About the Author
Eric is a friend of the rose growers at
rosefarm.com, where one can send
flowers and long stem red roses
to their friends and loved ones