St. Valentine is forever associated with a day for lovers, and the calendar date February 14. How did the 14 of February come to be celebrated all around the world? And, who is this mysterious Saint Valentine?
Feb. 14 is a day for couples and loved ones of all ages to celebrate romance and love all around the world. People celebrate Valentine’s Day in various ways. Special dates, declarations of love, and gifts all play a role in this romantic holiday. Gifts might include flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. Making your significant other feels special and loved with a card or letter is typically at the top of most lists.
Let’s start at the beginning with an introduction to St. Valentine.
Introduction to St. Valentine
Who was St. Valentine?
In most accounts, there are at least two saints who were named Valentine or Valentinus, who had any connections to the inception of the day. One of the legends says that Valentine was a priest that served during the third century. A different legend depicts the acts of St Valentine of Terni. While the story is different, the similarity of his actions suggests a similar source.
When was St. Valentine born?
St Valentine of Terni was born in AD 226.
Where was St. Valentine from?
With the assumption that both the Valentine associated to the day could be the same person, Valentine was from Terni, Italy.
What was the patron of St Valentine?
Saint Valentine was the patron saint of lovers, people with epilepsy, and beekeepers.
The St. Valentine Story
What did he do?
According to one of the legends, in the third century, Emperor Claudius II thought that men who weren’t preoccupied with love, what he considered as a distraction, made better soldiers. He believed that men who didn’t have to tend to or care for wives, children, or a bridal family would perform better. Hence he abolished marriage for the young men of Rome. St Valentine, however, continued to marry the men to their loved ones in secret. He defied the emperor.
The other legend involves the same problematic emperor, Claudius II. Unsaid it’s the same version or not, but Valentine had helped prisoners escape harsh Roman punishments for their crimes. An imprisoned Valentine had subsequently fallen in love with the jailor’s daughter and sent letters to her with the words “from your Valentine.”
What is Valentine’s Day
What is the meaning of St. Valentine’s Day?
Known as the day of love and romance in modern times, Valentine’s Day was originally a Roman day dedicated to the Saint of the same name. It is the day when lovers exchange tokens of love, appreciation, and affections in the form of various gifts and present that usually ranges from cards, letters and other greetings to chocolates, flowers, and other things depending on the tastes and likings of the people involved.
It is a day that originated from the actions of a man, who driven by his faith, became associated with the spirit of love. Notably from the 14th century, after Geoffrey Chaucer’s recitation of his poem about birds in love, it became a more widespread tradition for people to do something for their significant others in honor of this day.
Where did St Valentine’s Day originate?
The stories of Saint Valentine have their origins in Rome. After the initiation of addressing the day of the saint’s martyrdom, the day became symbolic from thereon. Hence it can be said that it originated from Rome, Italy.
How Valentine’s Day came to be
How did St. Valentine die?
Officials executed Valentine for his beliefs, and acts of faith were the basis for his legend. What he did was aid Christians in Rome by marrying them against the law passed by Claudius II or, as the other legend says, help prisoners flee harsh penalties. These actions, unfortunately, had its consequences. When Claudius II became aware of these acts, he executed or beheaded Valentine.
When did St. Valentine die?
He is said to have died on the 14th of February in AD 269.
How did St. Valentine become a Saint?
Valentine suffered martyrdom as he was executed by decapitation for his acts of faith. Hence he had been named a Saint by the church of Rome.
Where did Saint Valentine die?
He died in Rome, Italy.
Where is the skull of St. Valentine?
One of the existing relics of the saint is his alleged skull, which is in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. It is adorned in a flower-crown and exhibited.
How did St Valentine’s Day originate?
February 14 was named Valentine’s Day in honor of St. Valentine as he was martyred and buried on that day. Some sayings associate the day with love because of the acts for which the saint was martyred. As he married the men of Rome to their loved ones and wrote a letter of love to the jailer’s daughter according to the other legend, the man’s actions had the essence of romantic love. Hence the day is associated with love.
The earliest accounts of Valentine’s Day is associated with love comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century Parliament of Fouls, a poem written by him. He recited the poem describing two birds finding their mates in the middle of spring on Valentine’s Day. Margery Brews, who was a Norfolk woman, holds the credit for the earliest form of a Valentine’s Day card or a letter which was addressed to her cousin, John Paston, describing him as her right well-beloved Valentine.
Another theory is that Chaucer wrote the poem for King Richard II to assist his path through his marriage attempts to Anne of Bohemia during the time.
What was the Feast of Saint Valentine?
A different saying about the placement of St Valentine’s Day in the middle of February originates from a festival named Lupercalia. Lupercalia was an ancient Roman cultural festival that was considered pagan by the Christian church of Rome. The Roman God of agriculture inspired the fertility festival. Besides the fertility associated with the harvesting of crops, Lupercalia links to the fertility of the women. The customs of the day involved sacrifices of animals, such as a goat and a dog.
The parts of the sacrificial animal and the sacrificial blood was adorned on by the women because they believed it would enhance their fertility for a said amount of time. Other customs involved the courtship of men and women for a particular time. The nature and spirit of these customs were not considered Christian by the church; hence they placed the Feast of Saint Valentine – a Christian festival – in the middle of February to remove the celebration of Lupercalia from the month.
Which St. Valentine is celebrated on February 14?
There are two to three versions to the St. Valentine backstory that describe the origin of the celebrated day. What makes all the versions similar to each other is the intention behind the acts of every version of the stories. It is believed that all the versions of the story are really about the same Saint Valentine, although the origin stories are slightly altered in each account.
Valentine’s Day celebrations
Valentine’s Day cards
Cards are the most classic and traditional way of expressing love on Valentine’s day. It is a practice that dates back to the 1500s when Margery Brews had composed a letter to John Paston. Although a letter, it can be considered as a card since cards hold messages of affection for the recipient, as do letters.
The artistry on Valentine’s day cards has evolved over the centuries. It continues to be one of the critical factors when choosing or designing a card for an individual. Although, what was simply a sweet token of love in olden days, has translated into significant spending in modern Valentine’s season. St. Valentine’s legend continues to be spread via cards, notes, and letters.
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What are some favorite St Valentine’s Day foods?
Although traditional Valentine’s Day food items that are exchanged as gifts involve variations of chocolates and confectionery of different kinds. These include cookies, candies, sweets and a lot more. Valentine’s Day meals that are traditional and common all around the world feature a rich cuisine that makes it obvious why they fit into the day perfectly. Warm to the heart and stomach, they fill up the minds of the couples sharing the meal with love and wholesomeness. Some of the favorite dishes are:
.> Steak with peppercorn sauce: A popular choice for dinner dates and meals that are especially shared.
.> Spaghetti: Whether it’s carbonara or with meatballs, sharing spaghetti with a loved one reminds us all of The Lady and the Tramp. Hence, an instant kindling of romance is sure to occur over this meal.
.> Beef Wellington: A Gordon Ramsay specialty, some may be surprised to know that this is a classic dish quite intricately developed by other chefs and cooks for years and years. The beef wellington is a staple when it comes to tradition and a delicacy on the dinner table.
.> Quick and easy cocktails: There are many variations pf cocktails that are involved in Valentine’s Day treats, but the one thing in common amongst them is the look and incorporation of themes and colors into the drinks. This is common to the food items as well but vital to the glasses.
Sweets for St. Valentine’s Day
.> Cupcakes: A classic cupcake become even better when they are homemade. While many different flavors are available as options, the mist common is vanilla buttercream, chocolate and carrot, and cream cheese flavors.
.> Strawberry cheesecake: Strawberries are an intensely romantic fruit and can be quite flexible when it comes to incorporating it with Valentine’s Day dishes. Strawberries are favorites in Valentine’s Day desserts around the world, both in terms of taste and aesthetics. Chocolate covered strawberries are another favorite.
.> Sugar cookies: Intricate, creative and handmade patterns and decorations on Valentine’s Day sugar cookies are sure to impress people, even though sugar cookies are more of a Christmas treat. What makes sugar cookies perfect for Valentine’s Day as well as the artistry and room for expression through creativity.
.> Heart-shaped box of chocolates: This is a traditional gift in the U.S. for your sweetheart.
Which countries celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Almost every other country in the world takes part in the celebrations of Valentine’s Day. Some countries celebrate it more elaborately than others. Some of those countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India. The most common factor among the countries is their belief that Valentine’s Day encourages immoral acts among the citizens of the country. There are various traditions in countless different countries surrounding the day.
After 1847, embossed paper lace Valentine’s were mass-produced for the first time. Floral decorations were featured. Hand-written notes soon made their way in the 19th century. In the UK, it had been estimated that an approximate of £1.9 billion was spent on Valentine’s day and activities in the year 2015 alone. Cards, gifts, confectionery, and other presents made up the majority of this spending. In the US, Valentine’s Day had become a commercialized holiday by the mid 19th century.
Some East Asian countries spending the most money on Valentine’s day celebrations are Singapore, China, and South Korea.
Valentine’s Day in Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Puerto Rico call Valentine’s Day Día de Los Enamorados or Día del Amor y la Amistad. The Dominican Republic and El Salvador have a tradition that translates to Secret Valentine, which is similar to the tradition of Secret Santa.
Valentine’s Day Cards
According to an estimation, around 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year in the US. Based on the numbers, the festival is a significant source of economic income in the country.
The Chinese celebrate Valentine’s Day on the day of the seventh month of the Lunar calendar. The Chinese seem to have their origination and background when it comes to the day.
India and Saint Valentine’s Day
India was one of the countries that caught up with Valentine’s Day traditions quite late compared to other countries (1992). TV channels such as MTV, radio station programs spread the word and made it popular among the population. The economic gain from this popularity is also one of the factors that carried forward the traditions in the country. The celebration of the day affected the way people viewed the display of affection after the Middle ages quite significantly. Despite the many obstacles, Valentine’s Day continues to be popular in India.
Israel celebrates Tu B’Av as the equivalent of Valentine’s Day. Although it is celebrated sometime in late August, its customs and practices are quite similar to that of St Valentine’s Day.
In Japan, Valentine’s Day was introduced around 1936 through a commercial aimed towards foreigners in the country. The exchange of chocolates is popular it comes to its Valentine’s Day traditions.
In Lebanon, a large part of the population considers St Valentine as the patron saint. Couples take part in the activities by taking the chance to exchange gifts and sweet words on the day. The gifts are usually boxes of cupcakes, chocolates and red roses – all of which have symbolic meaning. However, celebrations vary between every city in Lebanon.
Phillippines, Ireland and More
In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day involves a very steep increase in prices of items people buy for celebrations. There are also mass weddings held free of charge on the day.
In Ireland, people on the quest for true love make Christian pilgrimages to the shrine of St Valentine in Dublin. While there, they pray for finding the love they are seeking.
France, being a traditionally Catholic country, sticks to the roots of Valentine’s Day. The French employ the term “Saint Valentin.”. Relics of Saint Valentine of Terin are in a church in the town of Rougemaure, Gard. Spain also refers to the day as “Saint Valentin.” The celebration activities are the same as the rest of the West.
Romania started celebrating the festival in recent years. Lastly, Scandinavia began celebrating the holiday in the 1960s, where much of the customs resemble that of the UK.
— Sara Martin
Sara is a writer and historian who lives in the Twin Cities.
You’re on St. Valentine: Valentine’s Day and its Origin page.
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