Friday 14 February 2014

Everything you never knew about Valentine’s Day!

*This post was written by – why not take a look at their range of luxury Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your special someone.

Millions of doting couples will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, showering their loved ones with cards, gifts, expensive meals and large doses of affection. But where did Valentine’s Day all begin? And why do we need to send a card to prove we care? While critics may say Valentine’s Day is the brainchild of Hallmark Cards, hoping to squeeze more cash out of the post-Christmas sense of love and goodwill, its history is somewhat more mythical and mysterious.


The idea behind a ‘lovers’ holiday’ can apparently be traced back to an annualpagan festival called Lupercalia, where raucous Romans stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips and spanked the backsides of young maidens, in the somewhat hopeful belief of increasing their fertility. Held every year on 15th February, this remained wildly popular well into the fifth century A.D, 150 years after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Saint Valentine 
Christian beliefs trace Valentine’s Day to 289 AD, when SaintValentine, a Roman priest, went against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, who outlawed marriage, believing that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families.
Feeling a sense of injustice, Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret, but was soon discovered by the Emperor and sentenced to death. On the night before his execution, Valentine allegedly cured the jailor’s daughter of blindness, sending his a note signed “From your Valentine” – the same popular phrase used by lover’s in their cards today. The first official Saint Valentine's Day was declared on 14th of February by Pope Galasius in 496, in memory of Saint Valentine, who would be swathed in heroism and romanticism for years to come.

Middle Age lovers 
While Valentine’s greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, written Valentine’s cards and letters didn’t appear until the 1400s. Saint Valentine firstly became associated with Courtly Love during the Middle Ages when Chaucer wrote a poem celebrating the engagement of KingRichard II of England to Anne of Bohemia (1381): For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate” The oldest Valentine in existence is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was captive at the Tower of London. King Henry V is also known to have employed a writer to create a romantic Valentine note to Catherine of Valois. In Paris, on Valentine’s Day 1400, the High Court of Love was opened, dealing with affairs of the heart – marriage contracts, divorce, infidelity and domestic violence.

The Valentine’s card 
In Britain, Valentine’s Day gained further popularity during the 17th century, and by the 18th it was popular for lovers to send gifts and handwritten notes, typically made from lace and paper. In 1797, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published, suggesting appropriate rhymes and messages for people to use and adapt. With improved printing processes and postage systems, printed cards arrived by the 1800s, seen as an easy way for people to express their feelings when direct displays of feelings were not considered appropriate.

Love en masse
A landmark event in the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day was in 1913, when Hallmark Cards produced their very first Valentine, which was the catalyst for the mass produced cards we see today.
Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year, making Valentine's Day the second biggest card-sending day of the year. Valentine's Day generates around £9.2 billion in sales in the United States.

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