The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day
Category : Gifts
Having just recovered from the embarrassment of turning up alone to the ‘plus one’ work Christmas party, it’s now time to face the ignominy of St. Valentine’s Day. Oh no. Everything is pink foil and red roses. Even the petrol station sells vomit-inducing teddy bears presenting little signs which read: “I wub woo.” Ugh.
Valentine’s Day can certainly divide opinion, depending on how loved up you are on the day. Perhaps what people don’t realise however, is the significance this day has played in history and as such, don’t afford it enough respect.
The origins of St. Valentine’s Day are blurry but it would appear to have been borne out of a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, where young men would whip young women with dog- or goat-skin whips in order to improve their fertility. Around AD 289, Valentine of Rome was said to have fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter, sending her a note ‘from your Valentine.’ He was imprisoned for secretly carrying out weddings and allegedly died on 14 February.
The first linking of St. Valentine’s Day to romantic love was by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century and a few years later, France’s High Court of Love is opened on 14 February, dealing with issues of marriage and infidelity. Shakespeare’s Ophelia refers to it in her lament to Hamlet and by the 1750s, passing love notes made of lace had become popular, much like the cards sent today.
If you will be enjoying this 14 February with a loved one, why not display your affection not with a goatskin whip but a quality gift? Maybe surprise that special person with the thought and care of a well chosen trinket. A weekend treat is another popular option that provides the opportunity for some welcome rest and recuperation. Give some spa gift vouchers so that the two of you could spend some time together in the lap of luxury. Even a simple meal at home makes for a lovely gesture, just ship in the candles and bubbly.
If it’s just you this year, then don’t despair and take some time to treat yourself – whether that’s a night out with friends, a quiet pampering session or an activity fuelled adventure day, Valentines Day need not be a chore.
Whatever its roots, St. Valentine’s Day has clearly played an important part in history for centuries and as such, ought to be treated with a little reverence. So put that teddy bear down and opt for something a little more decadent on this special day.