Celebrations, History and Symbols
‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’
‘For this was Saint Valentine’s day, when every bird of every kind comes to this place to choose his mate.’
This was one of the first references made to Valentine’s day in the poem ‘The parlement of foules’ [The Parliament of Fowls] written by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is said to relate to the early tradition of Valentine’s Day, as this was when all the birds would flock to seek their mate.
The History of Valentine’s Day
The origin of Valentine’s Day is difficult to pinpoint. One theory originates with the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated around the 13th to the 15th of February. It was held for two reasons; to honour the God Lupercalia, and also to ward off the danger of wolves to their flock – which doesn’t sound all that romantic.
The most popular theory is the belief that Valentine’s Day was created to mark the day when the Italian Saint Valentine or Valentinus was put to death by order of the Roman Emperor Claudius II.
Claudius was trying to build a large army, and had very little success, as many men didn’t want to leave their families and loved ones. In order to resolve this, Claudius decided to put in place a ‘marriage ban’ law, as he believed men with no families would be more likely to go to war, and would make better soldiers as they would be free from family concerns.
Valentine, who was a priest at the time, thought this was preposterous, and certainly didn’t agree or support that law. Secretly, Valentine was still marrying couples as part of his priestly duties. The lengths people will go to for love and commitment rings through time, making this theory very powerful with modern society.
Unfortunately for Valentine, he eventually got caught carrying out marriage services. Once caught, he was soon hit with the realisation that – by breaking this law – he had signed his own death certificate; the Emperor decided his punishment would be death.
While incarcerated for his crime, Valentine remained upbeat, and stood by his decision to oppose the Emperor’s unjust marriage ban. Many people visited him in jail and threw flowers at the window as a sign of their support.
During his imprisonment, it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, and on the day he died – 14th February 269AD – he left her a letter signed “Love From your Valentine.”
Symbols of Love
The symbols of love and romance are varied, but the love heart is undoubtedly the most ubiquitous symbol of romance. Other common symbols are arrows, as if struck by Cupid’s bow, and birds – often linked to freedom, their song is a beautiful melody that frequently makes people think of the one they love.
Modern Day Valentine Celebrations
Wherever the tradition originated from, Valentine’s Day is now celebrated by showering our loved ones with gifts, and cards with symbols of love and affection on them. Where do you think Valentine’s Day originates from? How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Do you feel those butterflies in your tummy when the postman comes to your door, or do you spoil your loved one with lavish gifts……… or do you feel it is an unfortunate commercial turn?
However you mark the occasion, I wish you all love and happiness on this romantic day.
Your Valentine x
Claire Hall – Senior Sales Assistant
Claire is the Senior Sales Assistant at AC Silver. Claire commenced her career in 1999, undertaking various roles within the jewellery industry in addition to successfully gaining qualifications in the field.