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The Origins of Valentine’s Day – From Saints to Restaurants

  • February 2, 2020

Valentine’s Day is well established in modern society as the most romantic day of the year, but its history is far from the cards, love hearts and restaurant bookings that it has become. Dating back to the days of ancient Roman martyrs, it wasn’t until 500 AD that a feast day was established on the 14th February to celebrate Valentine.

The big debate surrounding the origin of Valentine’s Day is whether or not the name relates to one martyr, or a number of them all called Valentine (or Valentinus in Latin) Scottsdale Florist.

There were a number of martyrs called Valentine from the same ancient Roman time, so it is not conclusively know which one of them the feast was actually established to celebrate. However, the Saint Valentine that the feast is most associated with was buried on 14th February a little north of Rome, but other than that very little is actually know about one of the most famous saints in the history of the church. In fact, because so little is known about the Valentine in question, he was removed from the Catholic calendar of saints when it was revised in 1969.

What is known for sure is that the feast to celebrate Saint Valentine was established by Pope Galasius I in the 5th Century, but even at that time very little was known about Saint Valentine, or the martyrs that could be connected to the name.

The Saint’s feast day remained solely a religious ceremony for nearly a thousand years until Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), along with his circle of peers, came to associate the day with courtly love. The English poet, philosopher and courtier famous for his work The Canterbury Tales was one of many authors of the Middle Ages to have written about courtly love, including Sir Thomas Malory, Dante and John Gower. Valentine’s Day was first written about with an association with matters of the heart in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fouls in 1382. However, it has been suggested that this reference could actually have related to a date other than the 14th February due to the fact that it may have been mixed up with Valentine of Genoa, whose Saint’s day in the liturgical calendar is in May.

By the 15th century Valentine’s Day messages had already been exchanged and the tradition of the association with love became so well established that by the 17th century it featured in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The 18th Century saw the first how-to Valentine’s Day kit for the young lover containing poems to send on Valentine’s Day. While in the 19th Century, innovations in the postal system and mass production through factories made cards freely available and easy to send anonymously.

From its ambiguous origins, Valentine’s Day has turned into one of the most popular celebrations of the year. Flowers, chocolates and restaurant bookings have been added to the tradition of cards, kisses and poetry to become big parts of the romance of Valentine’s Day. It has even inspired the production of a film by the same name. While clich├ęs have crept in to the tradition, there’s something incomparable to a card and a meal at a romantic restaurant on Valentine’s Day.

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