Like it or not, February 14th is Valentine’s Day. It is the day that lovebirds give and receive presents – flowers, chocolates, letters of love and secret admirers. February 14th is the international day of gushing displays of affection. But where does Valentine’s Day originate?
While it may feel like Valentine’s Day is a fairly modern festival however Valentine’s Day has been around for hundreds of years. With various myths surrounding the beginning of the holiday, they all seem to come back to religious beginnings.
Around 40AD, Roman emperor Claudius had the idea that married fathers made worse soldiers so marriage became illegal in order to keep his army strong. A local priest, Valentine thought this was rubbish so continued to marry couples in secret. Claudius was furious and typical of the times, had Valentine killed.
Years later the Vatican recognised him and the 14th February became the feast day. Although the originals of the day are Christian, the day has become a major commercial celebration of romance and love in many cultures around the world including New Zealand.
The day first became associated with love in the 14th century when poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote Parlement of Foules which honoured the engagement of the then King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. With romance in fashion at the time, the poem quickly became popular and a Valentine’s day reflective of the one we celebrate today was born.
February is also the beginning of the birds mating season in the Northern hemisphere and the Roman festival that goes by the name Lupercalia was also celebrated at this time. Both of these have also been attributed to the day too.
However it began, when the 19th century and mass produced greeting cards became commonplace, Valentine’s Day increased in popularity. Flowers, chocolates and soft toys also became popular.
While this is the day that society has chosen, wouldn’t it be nice to show your appreciation of anyone more than once a year?! Either way, Happy Valentine’s Day!