<![endif]–>Originally the word Valentine meant the person whose name was picked from a box to be chosen as your sweetheart up until the 1500’s. Around 1533, it meant the folded piece of paper with the sweetheart’s name on it. By 1610 it then became the gift given to this special someone and by 1824 it then became a poem, letter or verse to a loved one.
Although Valentines Day is celebrated on February 14th every year, it originates from the Roman celebration called Lupercalia, which was held on February 15th, a fertility festival.
When the Romans invaded France, they introduced this festival in which Roman boys drew names of Roman girls out of an urn and then the couple exchanged gifts on the festival’s day. This was considered a pagan celebration, so in 469 C.E., Pope Gelasius decided to put a Christian spin on this celebration by declaring that it was now to honor St. Valentine (A young Roman who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II who was said to have died on February 14th, 270 C.E., for refusing to give up Christianity.)
Rumor has it that St. Valentine was a priest who defied the emperor’s ban on marriage by marrying young people in secret. He was discovered, and put to death.
The Roman Catholic Church did their best to try to ban this pagan fertility/mating festival. However, it remained popular in the hearts of the people and so they finally decided that it was hopeless to get rid of it. So they decided to redefine it as a Christian Saint Day of St. Valentine.
In 1660 Charles II officially restored Valentine’s Day into England’s society and it is due to this that Great Britain is the country who is given credit for starting the printing of greeting cards, especially those expressing love, admiration, infatuation and other emotions of love.
St. Valentine’s Day did not come to America until 1629 with the Puritans and even here went against some of the church elders, but love prevails, whether openly or publically and the church could not hold back love and passion even in the new world. About 100 years passed before the first Valentine cards appeared in the United States.
On February 14th, 1667, Samuel Pepys in his diary described a kind of valentine that he got from his wife. It was a sheet if blue paper in which her name was written in gold letters. This became the beginning of later valentines but the custom didn’t grow quickly. It took 100 years before it was common to leave a valentine love letter at the doorstep of your sweethearts home.
Cupid is the Roman God of Love and the most popular symbol for Valentine’s Day. The Romans had Cupid as the son of Venus. His arrows were invisible and his victims (which could also include other Gods or humans) would not be aware that they were shot until they fell deeply in love.
The most popular colors that represent Valentine’s Day are red, white and pink. Red symbolizes warmth and feeling. It is associated with the color of the human heart. White is a symbol of purity. In some cases also being the color of Faith, so it means the faith of the love two people share for each other. And pink, which is a combination of red and white, is a symbol of innocence or virginity.
The core symbol of Valentine’s Day is the heart. A heart (red or pink) with an arrow piercing through it is the most common shape and look of the Valentines Day heart. The heart is a symbol both of love and also vulnerability. When you send someone a Valentine, you take a risk of being rejected and your feelings hurt. So a piercing arrow is a symbol of death and the vulnerability of love. On the other hand, the heart and arrow also symbolizes the merging of the male and female as one.
The actual biological shape of the human heart does not look like the heart as we see it today. The Valentine heart-shape as we know it today was done by a doodler to represent the human female buttocks or a female torso with well-endowed breasts or the imprint of lips wearing lipstick made upon a piece of paper.
Wearing your heart on your sleeve is an expression that comes from early 1800’s where young American and British men wore slips of paper pinned to their sleeves with their girlfriends name written on it. They did this for several days and so it started this term.
It was believed that birds chose their mates on February 14th. The dove was chosen to be the bird representative because it was sacred to the Roman Goddess Venus because it chose a lifelong love partner. Since all doves are part of the pigeon family, they mate for life and the male and female both share the same devotion in caring for their young. Their cooing sounds are often considered “love sounds” and today it is often said that when people in love talk rather sugary and baby-like it is “cooing” with each other. In the middle Ages it was felt that birds chose their mates on February 14th. So February 4th has been considered the official mating day for centuries.
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