St Valentine is a name we all recognize as a symbol of love and romance. We even have a day on February 14 named after it and, giving us a good excuse to express our most romantic side by showering our loved ones with cards and gifts. Valentines day can be a way to show our true love towards those most precious to us, but what are its origins and has it always been this way?
St Valentines day links back to Christianity and martyrdom. Many early Christian martyrs were named Valentine and were subsequently honoured the customary public worship on various dates by various Christian denominations. The Valentines honoured on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, with another St Valentine mentioned by the Catholic Church who was martyred in Africa.
The legend of Saint Valentine of Rome is perhaps the most popular account of why love and romance is associated with St Valentines Day on February 14. The story goes that the Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage so that there were plenty of unattached young men available to fight as soldiers. Valentine of Rome fought against this and the general persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire by performing secret marriage ceremonies. When eventually found out, Valentine was imprisoned but managed to heal his Jailer’s blind daughter who frequently visited him. It is said that he wrote her a letter before his execution and signed it “Your Valentine”, a statement still used today on valentine cards sent from admirers around the world!
The celebrating of Valentines day evolved over time and the giving and receiving of gifts and cards originated in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th century!
In the late 184o’s, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts sold this British idea to the United States after receiving a card from an English admirer. She took inspiration from his fanciful card and began importing floral decorations, ribbon and paper lace from England to begin the first mass-produced valentines cards. The famous American company card makers, Hallmark, first began producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1916 and Hallmark Card Statistics estimate that 144 million cards were sent in 2013 alone, coming only second to Christmas cards sent!!
‘Love Locks’ are a new phenomena that are quickly becoming popular around the world to express ones love! Couples usually secure a padlock bearing their names along a bridge or similar spot and throw away the key. They are thought to have originated in Hungary and are supposed to represent hearts locking together in eternal and everlasting love!
Valentine’s Day gifts have even evolved further and short breaks and holidays have now been introduced to celebrate this most romantic of days. Valentine’s Day is just round the corner so what better way to celebrate your undying love for someone than by sharing some of the most beautiful and romantic destinations with them, and create wonderful memories which will last a lifetime!