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The Intriguing History of Valentine’s Day

The Intriguing History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day 2022 is coming up and many of us are thinking about buying cards, gifts, and finding recipes. But have you ever considered the origins of this celebration? If you’re thinking that some in England invented cat cards during Victorian times, you may be partially correct in this holiday becoming popular. But the origins of this event actually took place many centuries earlier.

The Christian Origins

 You don’t have to be Christian to celebrate, but this holiday is also called Saint Valentine’s Day and the feast of Saint Valentine for a reason. It originally was a feast day, quite similar to Christmas, where people would honor a Christian martyr, much like Jesus Christ is honored on Christmas Day. In this instance, two different martyrs were honored. We know more about one of them, and less about the other.

 It’s unknown whether there were more than two Saint Valentines of note, but the first, Valentine of Terni, Italy was imprisoned in Rome for helping Christians being persecuted during the third century. There are other stories involving him also. He used to perform marriage ceremonies for Christian soldiers who normally were forbidden to marry. Apparently, he restored the eyesight of his jailer’s blind daughter. As part of this interesting legend, he wrote her a note before he was executed and signed the letter as “Your Valentine”. The other Valentine was named the Valentine of Rome. He was a priest who was martyred in 269. Beyond that, little is known of him.

The Influence of the Two Saint Valentines

In AD 496, Saint Valentine’s loving actions were still talked about, while the other Valentine was also added to the calendar of the saints. The pope at the time, Pope Gelasius I, decided to create a special day on February 14th that was to be called “The Feast of Saint Valentine.” This also coincided with the month and the date that he was executed. This event was supposed to honor both of the Saint Valentine’s too.

It wasn’t until around the 14th century that this celebration focused more on romantic love. During this time there was a bigger focus on courtly love in the cities, rather than a couple being married because their parents commanded it. Spring was ahead, which is also a symbol of connections and fertility. The word “lovebirds” became a term to mean two adults in love, like the lovebirds in nature that would mate for life.

The holiday flourished in England around the 18th century. Couples would give each other small gifts on what soon became called “Valentine’s Day” as a shortened form of the name. These gifts might be sweets, greeting cards, and flowers. These small gestures were part of the celebration.

Today, the occasion is celebrated by people in various Christian denominations, but also by anyone who is happy to buy a loved one a small gift of gratitude. Children are particularly excited to receive a small gift of chocolates on this day. The gift of Jewelry says “happy valentines day my love” like no other.

The Icons

We can associate this holiday with many different icons. Perhaps one of the most common symbols for valentines day is the simple red heart. This can often be seen on cards, cakes, and cookies. You may also see little angels or cherubs on the cards, often pictured standing on clouds. This is in reference to Saint Valentine himself (as one entity), who must now be in Heaven.

But his influence is still felt, and it is believed that he’s still sending loving feelings down to those who need it. Doves are another symbol of this day, especially in pairs, to symbolize lovebirds. During Victorian times, giving greeting cards became quite popular. Often these cards depicted the symbols above, but also had depictions of children and cats and kittens on them.

Folk Traditions

Europe would have been the first continent to start folk traditions around this holiday. While the day is now associated with romantic love, there are also some associations with spring being on the way, which warms the hearts of everyone after a cold winter.

In Norfolk, England, there is a legend that a man called Jack Valentine will knock on your back door, dropping off gifts of sweets for the children. This tradition can unsettle many children, but it can be a way to get them to behave so they get a good treat from him.

In Slovenia, it’s believed that at this time of year Saint Valentine will encourage the growth of plants and flowers, which will pop up from the ground on this day. This is also the day when work commences in the fields and orchards.

Will Valentine’s Day 2022 Be Different?

In the past, there may have been parties. We can still have parties for this day, as long as we observe the health regulations. The stores will certainly be filled with chocolates, cards, and small gifts to buy our loved ones.

In the past, schools in the USA and Canada would host this holiday with card exchanges. Often these cards would be hand-made and gifted to other students in the class. This year, it will be up to individual schools to decide if they’ll keep with this tradition, or perhaps have children make cards for family members instead.

Instead of buying a gift that will soon be forgotten, consider baking some festive recipes that will go further in showing someone that you care, because you took the time to bake them some delicious treats. What’s so great about this day is that it is a holiday that is celebrated by couples, so you can both simply stay inside and celebrate in your own home. There’s no need to head out to a restaurant for dinner, when you can cook inside your own kitchen, and enjoy this special time with your partner, husband, or your entire family.

Hot Gift Ideas

Give that special woman or man in your life the gift of jewelry. This remains one of the top gift ideas for 2022. Show them your love by giving an engraved infinity bracelet for her or engraved dog tag necklace for him

Traditional Recipes

Do you need some ideas for Love day recipes? Chocolates can be tricky to make, but many chocolatiers sell meltable chocolate that can be poured into special molds and trays. All you have to do is melt the chocolate, pour it into the mold, and wait for the chocolate to cool down. The chocolates can then be popped out of the mold and placed into a little box. Cupcakes are also a popular option, or a cake in the shape of a heart. You can find these cake pans for sale in stores or online. Another popular option for recipes are also cookies, which can be made in any shape, such as hearts, angels, or birds.

Happy Valentine’s Day 2022

This may not be an official national holiday in any country where you get a paid day off, but it certainly has a long and interesting history behind it. Whether you go to work or school, or stay home to celebrate, know that it’s more than giving a small card or baking treats. The celebration of this day has spread throughout the world now. And we hope that you enjoy this romantic holiday in 2022!

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