Saint Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine's Day

History, Customs and Traditions Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day and its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different

There are various popular and interesting legends of St Valentine's Day. Some legends trace the origin of Valentine's Day to pagan times while others link it one or more Saints of early Christian Church. Yet another point of view on the origin of

Valentine's Day links it to the beginning of birds mating season. Popularity of the festival is perhaps due to the combined effect of all these legends along with the notion that spring is the time for love. Early Christian Church indicates the presence of at least two saints names Valentine. Some scholars

however, says that there were as many as seven saints credited with the name of Saint Valentine or Valentinus all of whom lived in the Third Century and apparently died on the same day. Given here are some of the most popular of all legends of Saint Valentine Several historians trace the origin of Valentine's Day to pagan times in ancient Roman Empire. In those times, people organized a holiday on February 14 to honor Juno the mythological Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also regarded Juno as the Goddess of Women and Marriage. From the following day - February 15 started the Fertility Festival called the Feast of Lupercalia. This feast was organized to protect humans from wolves and to honor the Roman Gods of Agriculture Lupercus and Faunus besides the founders of Rome Romulus and Remus. During the Feast of Lupecalia, members of Lupercali - an order of the Roman priest used to gather in a sacred cave where Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa.

Following the tradition, the priest would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. Boys would slice the goats hide into strips, dipped them in sacrificial blood and move about the streets gently slapping women and fields with the animal hide. Womenfolk gladly received a slap, as they believed that the practice would make them more fertile. Later, during the Feast of Lupecalia, all the young women in the city would place a chit of their name in a big urn. Bachelors in the city would each then take a chit out of the urn and became paired for the girl whose name was on the chit for the rest of the year. Quite often, the paired couple would fall in love and marry. Later, when Christianity spread through Rome, the practice of finding mate through lottery' was deemed unChristian and outlawed. Around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius is said to have declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. Some writers link Valentine's Day with Feast of Lupercalia because of similar date and connection with fertility.

According to one very popular legend, Valentine was a priest in Rome who lived during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Under his regime, Claudius is said to have engaged Rome into several bloody battles. To strengthen his army, the Emperor continuously needed to recruit soldiers. However, Claudius found that not many soldiers were keen to join the army because of attachment with their wives and families. In order to sever the bond of attachment, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine - a romantic at heart priest, defied this callous decree of Claudius by secretly arranging marriages of young men and women. When Valentine's defiance was discovered by the Emperor, he was brutally beaten up and put to death on February 14, about 270 AD. For his martyrdom and dedication for the cause Valentine was name a Saint after his death. By Middle Ages, Saint Valentine became popular as the patron saint of love and lovers in England and France to the extent that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as Valentine's Day on 498 AD and put an end to pagan celebrations. Thus, Saint

Valentine's martyrdom day became an occasion to celebrate love. Another famous legend on Saint Valentine states Valentine was an early Christian in Rome who was very popular amongst children. But during the time when Valentine lived, Roman regime was not in favour of Christianity and it even persecuted Christians to make Rome free of the followers of Christianity. In spite of this strict law, Valentine continued to practice his faith and refused to worship Roman Gods. This enraged Emperor Claudius II and he put Valentine into prison. Valentine is said to have spent a year in rigorous imprisonment during which he was missed a lot by children. They began to toss loving notes and flowers between the bars of his cell window. To an extent, this

legend may explain the tradition of exchanging notes and flowers on Valentine's Day. Some scholars believe that during his stay in prison Valentine made friends with jailer's blind daughter who at times brought to him notes and flowers from children. Whenever, possible Valentine also replied to the notes. Days before his execution, Valentine prayed for the jailer's daughter and she regained her sight. Before his death, Valentine is also said to have written a farewell note for the jailer's daughter and signed it "From Your Valentine. This expression is popular even till date. Some scholars believe that Valentine was killed because he tried to help Christians escape from the Roman prison as they were being tortured and beaten. Yet another set of scholars say Emperor Claudius II was impressed by Valentine's kindness

and good behavior. He even stated that Valentine could be freed if he agreed to worship Roman Gods. Valentine not just refused he even tried to convert Emperor to Christianity. This made Claudius very angry and he ordered his execution. Valentine was beheaded on February 14. Some scholars talk about the presence of yet another Saint Valentine related to Valentine's Day celebration of February 14. This Valentine was a Bishop residing in Interamna (today known as Terni) in Italy in the Third Century. He is said to have dedicated his life to the Christian community of Terni, becoming the first Bishop of the town. People adored Bishop Valentine and the fame of his holiness and miracles reached Rome. Valentine's was also linked with love because he is believed to be the first religious personage to oversee the celebration of marriage between a pagan man and a Christian woman. This Saint Valentine is believed to have been scourged, imprisoned

and beheaded by Placidus, Prefect of Interanma. The relic bones of this Saint Valentine are housed in a basilica in Terni. To commemorate the saint, every year on February 14, the town of Terni hosts exhibitions, fairs and cultural events. During the Middle Ages, people in England and France held a popular belief that birds started to look for a mate from February 14. This popular notion further strengthened the idea that Valentine's Day festival that falls in the middle of February should be celebrated as the day of love and romance. The concept soon gained ground amongst the lovers and they began to celebrate the

day by exchanging love notes and simple gifts like flower. Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour St. Valentine. Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball. In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialised. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. The spirit of good continues as valentines are sent out with

sentimental verses and children exchange valentine cards at school. Romantic festival of St Valentine's Day is celebrated with enthusiasm and fond regard in several countries around the world. Most commonly observed Valentine's Day tradition and custom is expressing one's love with an exchange of cards, flowers and gifts. Pampering one's beloved and making a romantic proposal to one's sweetheart is the other popular tradition of the festival that celebrates love. There are several other Valentine's Day customs and traditions associated with festival but these vary in different countries because of the social and

cultural differences. What remains the same everywhere though is celebration of love by lovers. Here we will discuss some of the most commonly observed way of celebrating St Valentine' Day. Looking for Dates Wishing Happy Valentine's Day' to all We Love Valentine's Day Custom of Exchanging Notes Valentine's Day Tradition of Exchanging Gifts An Occasion to Dine and Wine Valentine's Day Celebrations in Schools One of the most popular customs of Valentine's Day observed worldwide is to go on a date with sweetheart. Those without a date start looking for one days before the festival. The custom originated from the popular English belief that birds chose their partners on

February 14. For this reason, Valentines Day was called the Birds' Wedding Day in parts of Sussex. In the beginning, Valentine's Day was associated with romantic couples only but in recent times the festival is seen in much larger perspective. Now, people take opportunity of the day to wish Happy Valentine's Day' to anyone they love be it father, mother, teachers, siblings, friends, coworkers or just anyone special to them. The idea behind this tradition is to celebrate love, get love and give love to everyone around us. One of the most commonly observed Valentine's Day customs is the exchange of love notes called Valentines'. Initially people used to

exchange handwritten notes but starting with the 19th century, the practice of sending hand written notes was replaced by the exchange of mass-produced greeting cards. Gradually, Valentines Day cards came to be gifted to teachers, siblings, parents, friends and dear ones along with sweethearts. Today, Valentine's Day festival is estimated to be the biggest cardsending occasion after Christmas. Most commonly used pictures in Valentine's Greetings include images of popular Valentines Day symbols like red roses, hearts and Cupid the pudgy, winged son of Venus, the goddess of love. These days, there is also a tradition to club Valentine's with tiny candy hearts with affectionate messages printed on them. There exists a strong tradition of indulging one's beloved with gifts of

love. Some of the most popular gifts exchanged between lovers on Valentine's Day are fresh flowers - mainly roses, chocolates and teddy bears. Fine jewelry is increasingly becoming a popular St Valentine's Day gift for women due to the rigorous marketing campaign by diamond industry. Candies, showpieces besides several other things are also gifted to dear ones including grandparents, parents, siblings, teachers and friends. This is because Valentine's Day is increasingly being regarded as the festival that celebrates love between two individuals and not just lovers. The other most traditional way to

celebrate Valentine's Day is to go for romantic candlelight dinners with one's Valentine. Many also choose to propose their dates in such a romantic setting and say the golden words, I love you'. The other most emerging tradition is to participate in Valentine's Day balls and dance parties organized by various societies, clubs and restaurants. Many people also organize Valentine's Day Couple's parties in their homes where lovers have a blast in the company of friends. Those without a partner organize Valentine's Day Single's Party and have a good time dancing and playing games with other friends who are single. In several countries including United States and Canada there is a tradition to organize Valentine's

Day classroom parties in schools. In such parties children exchange chocolates and Valentine's Day cards with their friends. British children sing special Valentine's Day song and receive candies and chocolates as reward. Senior school children usually organize Valentine's Day dance parties and have fun with friends. There are several symbols attached to the romantic festival of Valentine's Day. The most commonly attached Valentine's Day Symbols include Roses, Hearts, Cupid,

Lovebirds and Dove besides Love Knots and Laces. Each of these Valentine's Day Symbols has an interesting story about how they become attached with the festival. Over the years these symbols have become a part of the Valentine's Day Tradition. The present generation may not know the story behind these symbols but they surely recognize the festival with its traditional symbols. Valentine's Day Roses Valentine's Day Hearts Cupid Lovebirds & Doves Love Knots Valentines Day Lace Valentine's Day Roses Valentine's Day Hearts Love Knots Valentines Day Lace Cupid

Lovebirds & Doves Rose is one of the most popular flower and one of the most powerful symbol of Valentine's Day. Since time immemorial rose flower has been a favorite of poets and romantics at heart. For them, the lovely rose stand for beauty, passion and love. Every year on February 14 lovers long for a gift of Rose from their Valentine as the flower has come to denote I love you'. No wonder, demand for roses reach its zenith on Valentine's Day as people across the globe chose to express their love with a lovely rose. Legend behind Valentine's Day Roses There is an interesting story behind the legend of Valentine's Day Rose. It is said that once a beautiful maiden by the name of Rodanthe was

pursued by a number of impassioned suitors. In their desperate pursuit the lovers broke the doors of Rodanthe's house. This enraged goddess Diana. She turned Rodanthe into a flower and her suitors into thorns. According to a popular legend in Rome once Cupid was carrying a vase of sweet nectar to the Gods on Mount Olympus and some nectar spilled on the ground. From the spot where the nectar fell emerged the beautiful Rose flower. An interesting point to notice is that if the letters of the word rose' are rearranged, it comes out to Eros - the God of Love. Red roses are also considered to be a symbol of love and passion and the favorite flower of Venus - the Goddess of Love. Meaning of Different Colors of Roses Rose flower is found in different colors and it is fascinating to note that each of these different Rose colors have been assigned different meanings by the society. Hence one needs to be careful while presenting rose to someone. Red Roses - Love and passion

White Roses - True love, purity of the mind and reverence Yellow Roses - Friendship, celebration and joy Pink Roses - Friendship or Sweetheart, admiration Peach Roses - Desire and excitement or appreciation Lilac Roses - Love at first sight and enchantment Coral Roses - Desire Orange Roses - Enthusiasm and desire Black Roses - Farewell or "It's Over" Bouquet of Red and Yellow Roses: Happiness and celebrations Bouquet of Red and White Roses: Bonding and harmony Bouquet of Yellow and Orange Roses: Passion Red heart pierced by the Cupid's arrow is a traditional symbol of Valentine's Day. Heart symbolizes love

and giving someone a heart means to hand over one's existence to someone. A heart pierced by a Cupid's arrow means that when someone presents a heart, the person takes the risk of being rejected and feeling hurt. Piercing arrow therefore symbolizes death and vulnerability of love. Some people also believe that the heart and arrow symbolizes the uniting of male and a female. Today, one finds great use of red heart symbol especially heart shaped red balloons in Valentine's Day decoration. Stuffed red heart decorated with a lace is a popular Valentine's Day Gift. Origin of Valentine's Day Hearts

Around 12th Century people were not aware the function of heart was to circulate blood inside the human body. What they knew was that heart begins to beat faster when a person is upset or excited. They, therefore, derived that heart was the seat of emotions and feelings. Poets too eulogized the role of heart in feelings of love and romance and over the years this make believe connection between heart and love became deep seated in the minds of people. Today, even though it has been scientifically proved that emotions come from the brain heart remains a powerful symbol of love and Valentine's Day. Wearing one's Heart on one's Sleeve The popular expression of 'Wearing one's heart on one's sleeve' comes from the tradition prevalent in America and Britain around 1800s. At that time, young men used to wear slips of paper pinned on their sleeves and had their girlfriend's name written on it. Winged and mischievous little angel called Cupid is one of the very famous Valentine's Day Symbols. The

symbol traces its origin from the Roman mythology where Cupid has been described as the son of Venus the Goddess of Love. It is believed that Cupid had a bow with a quiver of arrows and anyone hit by Cupid's arrow did not die but fell in love. According to a myth, it was Cupid's mother Venus who used to send him on such errands. In Greek mythology, Cupid is known by the name of Eros and as the son of Aphrodite - the Greek Goddess of Love. In Roman and Greek mythology Cupid is always shown as a youth and not as a fat baby with wings. In Latin, however, the meaning of the word Cupid' is desire. Latin mythology shows Cupid as a chubby, naked, winged boy or youth with a mischievous smile and as someone who made people fall in love. In certain mythologies it is said that anyone shot with a Cupid's arrow falls in love with the first person he/she sees. It is also said that Cupid's arrow was invisible to his victims so that they would not be aware that they were shot until they fell in love. Several legends have used this mischief of Cupid to create hilarious situations.

Lovebirds and Doves are an endearing and prominent Valentine's Day symbols. The symbol traces its origin from a belief in the olden times that birds found their mate on February 14. Interestingly, lovers across the world till date hold on to this belief. Reason why doves and lovebirds are considered strongly as a symbol of Valentine's Day is that while doves signify purity, innocence and humbleness picture of lovebirds conjures up the vision of couple in love. About Lovebirds

It is said that blue colored lovebirds got their names because they sit closely to each other just like people who are in love do. People say that lovebirds can't think of their lives without their mates. Besides, lovebirds are known to keeping in pairs and keeping to themselves just as the young lovers want to live in privacy. Nowadays, lovebirds that are depicted on Valentine's Day are tiny parrots in bright colors. This is because lovebirds are genetically from parrot family.

About Doves A special characteristic of doves and pigeons is their extreme loyalty to their mates. Unlike most other animals that go from partner to partner, doves remain with one partner all through their life. This is why, doves are recognized as a symbol of love and loyalty on Valentine's Day. According to a myth, Roman Goddess Venus considered dove as sacred because of its fidelity towards mate. Cooing sound made by birds is linked to love sound attributed to lovers. For this reason, when lovers talk in flowery and sugary language to each other they are said to be 'cooing'.

Love knot is yet another symbol of Valentine's Day. Representing love that will last forever, love knots are actually a series of winding and intertwining loops that have neither a beginning nor an end. Valentine's Day symbol of Love Knots traces its origin to early Arab traditions. Young Muslim women living in strict orthodox households used to express love to young men through secret messages woven through the knots of a carpet. Lovers read the messages by turning the knot around and around. The tradition of sending messages through the knots gave birth to the concept of love knots that exist even to this day. Some people believe the custom of love knots began with the sailors several years ago. This is because sailors were skilled at making fishnets and so making intricate knots was their forte.

Laces and ribbons are a delicate Valentine's Day symbol. Their association with love and romance can be traced to ancient times. At that time when kings and knights went to battles their ladylove presented laces to them. There is yet another reason attributed to popularity of Laces as Valentine's Day symbol. Hundreds of years ago ladies used to carry lace handkerchief. If at times a lady accidentally dropped her hanky, courtesy demanded that the man standing near the lady pick up the handkerchief for her. Sometimes, ladies used to drop their handkerchiefs deliberately in front of the man they liked and wanted to meet. Lace therefore became a tool in the hands of ladies to encourage romance. Gradually, people began to associate lace with romance and started using paper lace to decorate chocolate boxes and Valentine cards. Even in present times laces are used in Valentine's Day Decoration and Cards.

Valentines Day in present times has become a huge craze especially amongst the youth in countries around the world. Those in love start planning for the Valentine's Day celebrations with sweetheart days before the festival while those without a lover start looking for a date so that they are able to celebrate the day in the much-romanticized manner. Hype for the festival is further built up by the media and the rigorous advertising campaign run by the cards and gifts marketers. Love is ... a tender feeling, Love is ... a way of being, Love is ... just showing someone you care.

Love is ... helping with the dishes, Love is ... feeding your pet fishes, Love is ... just giving from your heart. Love is so very simple, It's not a mystery. When you treat those around you The very same way You want them to treat you. Love is ... your baby sister, Love is ... playing with her, Love is ... holding her when she cries. Love is ... sharing your candy, Love is ... being all that you can be, Love is ... lending a helping hand when someone needs you. Love is ... L-- V- E Love is ... For you and me. Oh! Love is the greatest thing in the world.

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