Valentines Day is the 14th of February, when admirers or lovers send cards, flowers or gifts to the subject of their affections, sometimes anonymously. The original valentine messages were spoken or sung and the oldest written valentine in existence is held by the British Library and was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, who in 1415, while imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt, sent a love poem to his wife.
The red rose was the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red stands for strong feelings which is why a red rose is a flower of love. The colours of Valentine's Day are red, white and pink. Red symbolizes passion, while white symbolizes purity. Pink is perhaps the most appropriate colour for young lovers - a meeting point between the two extremes.
History of Valentine's Day
Valentines Day started during the rule of Emperor Claudius II. Rome had been involved in many bloody and unpopular wars. Claudius the Cruel, as he was known, was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join the military. He believed the reason was because Roman men didn't want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. There was a Christian priest named Valentine who defended love in the empire. Valentine began to secretly marry couples despite the Emperor's orders. When Emperor Claudius was informed of these ceremonies, Valentine was sent to prison where he remained until his death on February 14 in the year 270.
It wasn't until hundreds of years later that Valentine's Day began to develop as we know it. At the time of Valentine's death, Christianity was beginning to take control of Europe. Roman Catholism sought to do away with pagan holidays. Valentine's Day came to replace a mid-February fertility festival called Lupercalia.. During Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. The early Roman men often wore the names of the girls who were to be their partners during the Lupercalia pinned to their sleeves. Even today we say that a man wears his heart upon his sleeve when he shows his interest in a lady.
Sometimes the couple exchanged presents. Ladies often received perfumed gloves or fine jewels. After the Lupercalia became a saint's day honoring Saint Valentine, time for anyone looking for a mate. In the 17th century a hopeful maiden ate a hard-boiled egg and pinned five bay leaves to her pillow before going to sleep on Valentine's eve. She believed this would make her dream of her future husband. Later, people began to exchange valentine cards instead of presents. The Duke of Orleans is believed to have made the first valentine card. Imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, he wrote love poems, or valentines," to his wife in France. Sweethearts exchanged handmade cards during the 17th and 18th centuries. The French trimmed huge paper hearts with yards of real lace. Valentine cards became popular in the United States during the Civil War. Elaborate cards trimmed with satin ribbons, mother-of-pearl ornaments, and spun glass were sold. Within a few years Valentine's Day received almost as much attention as Christmas.