The Brief History of Valentines Day
Everyone loves Valentines Day! The day we choose to express our love to the special person in our lives and give them our appreciation for all their love and support. We all choose special ways to honor this day and those we love. Chief among them is the exchange of gifts, especially in western cultures. But where did Valentines Day originate and why the ceremony involved?
Some people like to joke that it was created for the chocolate industry to boast sales and surely it hasn’t hurt them; although it may hurt your waistline J It is in fact true that in many cultures the entire month of February has been associated with romance. In Paris, for example, many festivities are available and directed toward couples during the entire cold month of February. From concerts to circus performances, to wining and dining your beloved, they cater to the Valentines atmosphere all month. And they’re not alone, a number of cities in the US and throughout Europe employ the same traditions throughout February.
Cities such as Alexandria in Virginia offer some of the most romantic dining along cobblestone streets imaginable. And at night couples can get closer with ghost tours and stories throughout the town sure to build romance between couples. About 150 Million Valentines Day cards are exchanged coming 2nd only to Christmas, in that regard. Curiously the day has a religious and actually somewhat melancholy history. The Catholic church has 3 separate saints named Valentine, who all died as Martyrs.
The widely accepted legend shows one of them, a priest, who served during the 3rd century in Rome. Rome was always in need of soldiers for the battlefield and this time was no different. Emperor Claudius II saw the obvious and heartbreaking problem of sending off married soldiers to war with families. Therefore he actually OUTLAWED marriage for young men. They simply were not allowed to get married before a certain age, and no one could officiate such a ceremony. The absurdity of this decree was clear and Valentine saw this. He continued to perform ceremonies for marriage in defiance of the Emperor. Of course he had to perform these ceremonies in secret and under the cover of night. He was eventually put to death for these actions, and forever brought romance and the idea of love’s power, to be further recognized in the world.
As Far as gift giving goes, Americans began exchanging gifts and valentines in the 1700s. The first Valentines Day cards came in the 1840s as well. So when you pick out that perfect bouquet of flowers or piece of jewelry for your dearest spare a thought for the history and beauty of this great holiday.
Happy Valentines Day to you and yours from us at 6Grape!