As you're digging into your lovely chocolates, or curled up this evening with a lovely hot toddy (with or without a beloved by your side), did you ever stop to think about where all this "hubbub" came from? Who, indeed is this inimitable St. Valentine, and why is it that the day that bears his name is honored world wide for celebrating love in it's many forms?
The true history of St. Valentine's Day extends back to the days of Rome when February 14 was a holiday to celebrate the Goddess of women and children, named Juno (see said lady on the right). The evening of February 14, Roman boys and girls would spend time preparing for the festivities scheduled for the next day during the Feast of Lupercalia.
"On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry."
The leader of the Roman Empire of that day was the immensely unpopular, Claudius the Second. Noticing that he was having trouble getting men to partake in his army due to their reticence to leave their families, Claudius, in his infinite wisdom, decided to cancel all engagements and marriages in Rome. (What WAS he thinking?) Now, to the real reason behind all this history - enter our St. Valentine to the story...
Our Valentine was a priest in Rome at this time. Valentine and a fellow priest, Marcius, decided, (in their infinite wisdom), to completely ignore Claudius' decree, and continued to marry Christians and help those that required it. Unfortunately for him, Valentine was caught and sentenced to be beaten to death by clubbing! (and no, I don't mean that he ended his life by exhausting himself on a non-stop tour of every dance floor in Rome...)
There is a story that says before his death and during his short imprisonment, Valentine was allowed a few visitors, one of which was the daughter of the jail keeper. On the day he died, Valentine left a thank you letter to the young lady that visited him and signed it, "Love from Your Valentine."
The truth, however may read more like this:
"The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feaSt. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way."
However you have chosen to spend this love-filled day, I do hope that it inspires you to celebrate love in its many faces and fashions throughout the year. My love to you, dear readers!
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:
Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine ---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.
In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.
Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.
A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide dress. Later, the love seat or courting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not too closely!
Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.
Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.
If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children you will have.
My grateful thanks to littlegoldwoman, wdochnahl and Osvaldo Zoom for photos found here: