How did Valentine’s Day become connected to February 14th?
Several resources point to ancient church leaders replacing the Roman festival that celebrated spring and fertility with the feast day to remember the martyrdom of one or possibly two men named Valetinus. People would travel from all over to the churches holding their bones looking for miracles. That doesn’t sound very romantic.
The latest theory on what put the heart into the holiday brings us to the 14th century author Geoffrey Chaucer. He linked the feast day of St. Valentinus on February 14 with when the birds get all frisky and start mating. The Nobility embraced the notion of a special date for love expression and began sending romantic verses of love during February.
The first valentine was in 1415. A duke was imprisoned in the Tower of London and sent a note to his wife calling her his Valentine.
The next popular author to link the date with love was Shakespeare. This helped lock down Valentine’s Day as February 14th in England for sending “valentines”.
By the 1800s commercially printed cards were becoming popular in replacing handmade ones. Those early cards became super fancy with factory workers hand painting them. Soon ribbon and lace would be added. Not all of them were sweet…search on line for the sassy and mocking “Vinegar Valentines”.
The tradition of exchanging Valentine’s Day cards in the U.S. didn’t become widely popular till after the Civil War. Thanks to a new company that would become Hallmark, a switch was made from postcard to cards inside envelopes to allow for more private messages.
While cleaning out a family member’s home, we found a box full of saved Valentine’s Day cards. She had saved every card her husband gave her, from their dating times during WWII till when he passed away. He was a gruff and rough working man, yet the cards he picked out where full of romance and sweetness. No wonder she cherished them. In return, she would make him home made heart shape ravioli every Valentine’s Day.
I have to say, I am a huge fan of those early sappy cards and homemade ones. Now we can send all sorts of cards over different platforms/mediums. Will those, or can they even be saved and cherished for many years?
What about the common symbols of Valentines?
The Heart: Going back to ancient days, the heart was believed to be the seat of emotion or of the soul. Ancient warriors even ate the hearts of their conquered enemies if they were seen as strong opponents.
Cupid: This baby boy was a Roman god of love, the son of Venus the goddess of love and beauty. Remember the Roman connection above?
Birds: Lovebirds mate for life. Also the link between coming of spring in February and Chaucer’s sexy birds.
Roses: Red roses are symbols of passion. Careful, if you give yellow ones, that means you only want to be friends.
Chocolate: All through history it was thought to increase passion.
Well there you go, a quickie on Valentine’s Day!
Wishing you a sweet and fun day.