The Origins And Traditions Of Valentine's Day...Mark's Factual Article Challenge.

Songbird BStarred Page By Songbird B, 24th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/c488f5vx/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

Surely Valentine Day is just one of those slushy days made for Lovers and Romantics everywhere isn't it? Ah perhaps today, yet it actually has a deep and historical significance should we delve deeper into its dim distant Past..Read on to discover the fascinating Origins and Traditions of Valentine's Day..

The Origins And Traditions Of Valentine's Day...

Taking up Mark Gordon Brown's challenge, I thought I would do a little research into the Origins and Traditions of Valentine's Day as we are now two weeks away from celebrating this particular popular occasion...and oh what a tangled web of myths, historical fact, religion and conjecture surrounded me as I delved deeper into it..and indeed, what discoveries I made...

To begin with..did you know that February originally came from the late Latin name of febuarius, and the Old French 'février', and was considered the month of expiation or purification?
This came from a Roman festival which was held between February 13th-15th, called Lupercalia, and Lupercus was seen as the Roman God of Fertility, who also guarded the shepherds of Rome from predatory Lupus or better known as wolves to you and me.

The history of it's original beginnings are shrouded in mythology, but relates to twin baby brothers, Remus and Romulus, who came to be known as the Founders of Rome. The twins had been cast adrift on the River Tiber by their usurping Uncle Amulius. (Not the nicest guy to have in the family...) Fortunately for them, they were washed ashore and found and suckled by a she-wolf known as Luperca..

The Festival Of Lupercalia..

There is a distinct possibility that Lupercalia actually dates back to Pagan times, as so many of our celebrations do, and the Romans incorporated it into their religious festival, and what a festival it was!
Going back then, into the dark dingy days of Rome, there were no romantic cards, or boxes of chocolates as we know it today. Instead the festival would begin with an animal sacrifice, their hide would then be stripped and dipped in sacrificial blood, and young men would 'whip' them against the the skin of young maidens and also crops, as this was thought to aid fertility and good harvest for the coming season.
It is said that these blood dipped thongs were known as Februa, and the lashing of the said item, Februatio..from the possible Latin word, to Purify. It was considered a young man's right of passage, a time of mating....Funny ideas they had way back when..

And if you think the lottery is a recent thing, think again!
After being 'gently' whipped by blood-soaked thongs, other highlights of the festival, of which there were many and varied, included young maidens writing down their names and placing them in a large urn, for the single menfolk to pick out. The couple would then commit to each other until the end of the feast of Lupercalia and often beyond, should the pairing be favourable.

During the Medieval period, single men would wear their chosen maiden's name on their sleeve, and the two would be paired for the year often resulting in marriage..
One wonders if this is where the saying, 'Wearing one's heart on one's sleeve' originates?

Religious Intervention..

Now all this was considered a bit 'unchristian' for the Roman Church, and as time moved on, the Catholic faith decided that a Saint would be a much better face to celebrate this pagan fertility occasion, but here we have disputes and conjectures as to who was the original Saint Valentine..There were at least three in the running.. and all met a rather sticky end..poor souls..

There is great speculation as to who the original St Valentine could have been, and despite intensive research, I am not really any the wiser, but bear with me as I try my best to unravel a little bit of historical conjecture..

One possibility is a Priest who helped Christians escape from Roman tyranny and persecution. This priest, or possibly *Bishop, ( I warned you it was somewhat confusing), was eventually captured and cast into prison. Christianity was rather frowned upon at the time by the powers that be, and he was put to death meeting a rather grisly end.
Coincidently, there was another martyred priest called Valentine or Valentinus, who lived, and unfortunately died whilst in Africa, but little is known of him..So our best possibility, could be a priest who lived during the reign of Claudius II..Otherwise known as Claudius the Cruel.
Now dear old Claudius II loved a good battle, but he found that married and romantically linked Roman soldiers in his battalions were not so keen on leaving behind the comfort of their wives and sweethearts whilst they battled unto possible death, so were somewhat reluctant to join in with his skirmishes and therefore depleting his army. He grew so incensed at this, (obviously didn't have a romantic bone in his body), that he banned his soldiers marrying and made them break off all engagements to their loved ones. This obviously didn't make him Mr Popular either.

And this is where our valiant Christian Roman Priest comes in.. He thought that this was such a cruel and unjust decree, that he started to secretly marry couples behind Claudius's back.. Of course, when Claudius discovered this, he was most put out and in a fit of pique, ordered poor old Valentine put to death.
Languishing in his cell, it is said that couples he had secretly betrothed would visit him, leaving him cards and gifts of thanks.
Whilst awaiting his death sentence, our priest fell in love with the prison guard's blind daughter, Julia, who used to visit him, and through his devotions to God, her sight was miraculously restored.
The day he was to be put to death on February 14th, he gave her a love note, signing it 'From Your Valentine', a phrase that is used to this day by Lovers everywhere.

St. Valentine's Day..

It was in the year of 496 AD, that a certain Pope Gelasius Ist, decreed that February 14th should be known as St Valentine's Day to honour this unfortunate martyred priest. But it didn't stop there..By 1969, eleven martyrs sharing the same name, were officially recognised and honoured by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church had strongly disapproved of the Roman 'Lottery' system of selecting a partner from a piece of paper drawn from an urn, as this was seen to be too pagan and certainly unchristian, so they consequently outlawed it..Another pagan tradition had bitten the dust.

In Countries such as France and indeed England, it was thought that February 14th was the start of the mating season for birds..hence, a time of romance, with little bird-like hearts fluttering wildly..

And So To Traditions...


There is in history, the romantic tale of an imprisoned young French Duke of Orléans, in the 15th Century, who was captured in the battle of Agincourt, and thrown unceremoniously into the Tower of Londonfor many years to rot..
Whilst there, in 1415, the Duke wrote many romantic poems and verses to his wife declaring his love for her..
It is interesting to note, that approximately 60 of his Love Poems have been kept in the British Library, and thought to be the oldest form of Valentine in existence today..

'Wilt thou be mine? dear love, reply
Sweetly consent, or else deny;
Whisper softly, none shall know,
Wilt thou be mine, love? aye or no
?'

(from Duke Charles of Orléans, Tower of London, England, 1415 A.D).

The tradition of giving flowers on Valentine Day arose approximately 200 years later, and it was all thanks to a daughter of Henry IV of France.
In a party given to honour St Valentine, she decreed that each Lady was to receive a floral bouquet from her chosen man..Sorry guys, it is her you have to thank as you go tearing round to your local garage to pick up a bunch of flowers for that girl in your life..!

Moving forward through time, by the 17th and 18th Century, it was by now common for small tokens of affection to be exchanged, and hand-written notes passed declaring one's love.
Printed cards became popular by the end of the Century, due to huge improvements in printing technology, and many of these cards were sent anonymously, when outright declaration of affection was somewhat frowned upon and therefore, discouraged by the straight-laced Victorians.
In the year 1840, Esther A Howland, came to be known as the 'Mother of Valentine' due to being the first to print and sell mass-produced Valentine cards in America.


Some Old British Traditions include:

Writing your sweetheart's name on paper and placing them on balls of clay.It was believed that once these clay balls were dropped into water, the first name that would arise, would be the name of your spouse to be.

Traditionally, a young maiden would marry the first single eligible young man she spied on Valentine's Day.

(A really odd one this)..If a maiden wished to see her future intended to be, she would have to venture into a graveyard on Valentine's Eve night, and at the stroke of midnight, run around the church twelve times, uttering a chant to conjure him to visibility! (I think that I would be running in the opposite direction, personally..)

During Victorian times, young single women would place Bay leaves sprinkled with Rose water upon their pillows, in the hope of seeing their future love within their dreams that night.

In Wales, tradition dictates that wooden Love Spoons carved with intricate hearts and keys, are given to a loved one, declaring romantic attachment.

Gifts of Flowers, (often a dozen Red Roses as this represents your love) are generally given on Valentine's Day to the lady of your heart.

Chocolates are also popular, as is Jewellery to show your commitment to your loved one.

Special celebratory romantic meals at home or in a restaurant are a sure way to win your lover's heart.

The tradition of giving a Valentine Card...the most important tradition of all..
It never hurts to say 'I love you' and saying it from the heart. We rarely say it often enough in today's hectic technological world...It can pay dividends..

February 14th... Romance Is In The Air..

So there you have it..Historical and Mythological..Confusing and yet Enlightening.. Romantic, even if it's Origins are a little gory..
From heathen Paganism to Roman fertility festival, through to Christianity and Sainthood, until up to the modern day, the long journey of St Valentine over the centuries wears many faces....

So as you sit there, with your loved one, surrounded by all the trappings of romance...raise your glass to a Saint or two who thought that Love was worth fighting for..St Valentine, this one is for you...

Happy Valentine's Day everybody!

Author's Note:
Please check out ppruel's wonderful Star Page article on this subject, as he has added extensive detailed information regarding the Origins and Traditions of Valentine's Day.
Not wishing to repeat his article, I have written my own interpretation of the Origins and Traditions of Valentine Day in a more general and light-hearted way..

*Regarding the two main Valentine's, I differ from Paul's version only in the fact that through extensive historical and mythological research, it seems to be the general consensus that the Priest Valentine, and the Bishop of Interamna may possibly have been one and the same man. The origins in the research I studied are too shrouded in history and fable to state categorically.


Photo Credits;
Idea go freedigitalphotos.net
Lupercalia Festival
St Valentine Wikimedia Commons
Pope Gelasius Wikimedia Commons
Victorian Hand-Written Notes Wikimedia Commons
Big Pink Heart Valentine Card Wikimedia Commons

Tags

Catholic Church, Christianity, Duke Of Oleans, Esther A Howland, Founders Of Rome, Love Poems, Lupercalia Festival, Medieval, Mythological References, Mythological Stories, Mythology, Origins, Pagan Traditions, Pope Gelasius, Remus And Romulus, Roman History, Rome, Songbird B, St Valentine Traditions, Valentine, Valentines Day, Victorian Romance

Meet the author

author avatar Songbird B
Hi there! I am Songbird B, and I am a semi-pro female Jazz vocalist. I have a huge passion for Jazz music, and I love writing Poetry, which I have done all my life. I am very Spiritual in my beliefs, and love Photography, Music and Garden Design....I...(more)

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author avatar Songbird B
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Thanks for moderating and the Star merit, Mark..This one gave me more grey hairs than I care to admit too! lol..

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Excellent history of Valentine's Day. Your effort showed.

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author avatar Songbird B
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you Mark, coming from you, I know what high praise that is..Bless you for your comment my friend.\0/x

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author avatar Delicia Powers
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Wow, great history, love the pictures you chose, and a totally fascinating and well done page, as you do nothing but- we can always depend on your excellence songbird:0)many thanks and Happy Valentines day my friend:0)

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Why thank you for such praise, Delicia..This one took far longer than I had anticipated as such conflicting information out there..Happy valentine's to you too my dear friend..

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author avatar richardpeeej
31st Jan 2012 (#)

What a tremendous amount of research work in this one Bev my friend. The pictures are stunning too. I enjoyed the article so much and the background to Valentine's Day is very interesting to read. A well-deserved star page...looking forward to reading more of your work..

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

This had over three weeks of research put into it, and was far tougher than I had envisaged, Richard..The history of Valentine is complex at best...Glad to see that the work that has gone into this has been so appreciated..Thank you for your constant unwavering support my friend..

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author avatar Retired
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Wonderful history of the Valentine's Day. Mark Anthony was known to run naked during the festival of Luppercal and it is also said if a barren woman were to touch him during that time, she would be borne with child. Calpurnia, Julius Caesar's barren wife was one of them and also warned Caeser of his impending death when she found the goat devoid of heart. His death did kill Cyna the Poet. ---- William Shakespeare's take on Julius Caesar.

Valentine's Day was more the time of elopement wherein couples in love eloped and were Married off by Valentine the priest who was put to death.

I was told that the Gretna Green Marriages in Scotland had a similar effect as the marital standings of Saint Valentine (takes Cannonisation and Beatification before the title of Saint is conferred around eight years wait I think).
Think you should mention about the Gretna Green Marriages it is something of high reverrence in the UK/Scotland as that was what was suggested to me by the locals because of the opposition faced in my marriage by the husbands family. I finally married in Alford Aberdeensire Scotland on top of a hill looking down at civilisation around the same time J K Rowling and Maddona got married in the surrounding area. No longer exists now (marriage) but its still ripe ten years on.

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Aiyanna, I always know that I am going to receive an insightful comment from you should you pop on my page. You produce information that intensive research on numerous websites did not, and I thank you for mentioning them here on my page. There actually was a restriction as to how many words should be used in this article, so rather than put readers off by too much information, I have only added what I thought was relevant from the angle that I took this from. Your point about Gretna Green is well made though, and maybe another article worth investing time and effort in at a later date. Thank you for gracing my page though.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Nobody has left me anything to add to these comments. Beautifully done, Songbird B.

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Bless you Jerry...Always good to see you here and I always value your comments..

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author avatar ChannelThePoetry
31st Jan 2012 (#)

that's rite valentines day is coming, and this was quite a journey ...

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Isn't it just? lol..So much more complex than even I thought, CTP...I will never quite look at Valentine's Day in quite the same light again after researching this..

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author avatar Sheila Newton
31st Jan 2012 (#)

Totally fascinating. It's never entered my head to know where Valentine's day originated from. now I know! Great star page, songbird.

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thanks Sheila! It is amazing just what you discover when you start to delve into some of our traditions. This was a great suggestion of Mark's. It was certainly enlightening..lol

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author avatar Tess Irons
1st Feb 2012 (#)

Very well done, Songbird B. I learned a lot from this. You deserve the star for this.

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Hello there Tess, thank you for looking in on me, and I am glad that you felt you could take something from this article...Great to see you..

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author avatar Neha Dwivedi
1st Feb 2012 (#)

Wow , wonderful Songbird .I really didn't knew that Valentine's day had such horrible yet beautiful past....

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Hello geeta! How lovely to see you here.. Yes, I had no idea how dark the beginnings of this tradition was...It certainly proved interesting to write..

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author avatar Buzz
1st Feb 2012 (#)

A page exquisitely written of the history of Valentine's Day, embellished with beautiful pics and a classic song to boot.

Great STAR page, Bev! Added to FB.:)

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Ah dear Buzz, I thought that you would enjoy the song I embedded in my article. It is a first for me too, as never added a video link before! lol Am so glad that you enjoyed my dear friend, and thank you for your never ending support on all my work..You are a star Buzzyboy.. Thank you for adding to FaceBook too..

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author avatar Jules Castillo
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

you yourself is classic , my friend.

Happy Valentines

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author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Cowboy...I blush at your lovely compliment..Happy Valentine's my friend..

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
4th Feb 2012 (#)

this piece is totally, marvellously wonderful in content, history, relevance and the pictures are so beautiful...thank you a million times Songbird...

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Feb 2012 (#)

Hello there cnw, how great to see you here on my page! Well thank you for such high praise indeed..I am deeply touched by your comments my friend..Bless you for looking in on me..

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
4th Feb 2012 (#)

Hello, Songbird. I am back on my feet after being struck down. Thank you so much for keeping in touch with me. As to your Valentine page, this must have taken so much work and time, but the results are spectacular. Thank you for always being there, Love & Hugs, Ivyevelyn.

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author avatar ppruel
4th Feb 2012 (#)

Fantastic, so fantastic Ms. Songbird - don't stop me to send this off to social networks. Love it...

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
5th Feb 2012 (#)

You have left no stone unturned in your stupendous effort on the history and traditions of Valentine's Day, Songbird. Compared to what we take for granted and even gripe about, our ancestors really had to fight for their beliefs. We enjoy their fruits of labor - siva

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
18th Jun 2013 (#)

I may be over a year and four months late in my comment dear Songbird , but this is an excellent and well informed write .I have had very few valentine cards in my life , and the ones I received were from friends who took pity on my . A well deserved star for the info and the pics .
God bless you
Stella ><

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