Valentine's Day | Who Was Saint Valentine Anyway?
People everywhere are getting in the mood for love! But who was Saint Valentine?
Whatever your romantic circumstances, Valentine's Day is hard to ignore. It's everywhere! But of the many over-hyped holidays on the calendar, Valentine's Day is one of my favourites. There's nothing more worthy of celebration than Love. But amidst all the commercial gift giving, did you ever wonder where it all began? Just who is this Saint Valentine?
Who Is Saint Valentine Anyway?
The origins of Valentine’s Day, or Saint Valentine’s Day are a little hazy. There are around 14 saints with the name Valentine commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. There are at least 3 potential St Valentines with whom the 14th February is associated, two of which were alive as early as the third Century and the third is barely known at all.
The most popular of the three main contenders is Saint Valentine of Rome who was martyred for refusing to convert to traditional Roman paganism during the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians. (I know, what on Earth was that?!) Well, apparently Diocletian was Roman emperor from 284 to 305 and his persecution of the Christians was the last and most severe of the Roman Empire (so Wikipedia tells me.)
The First Valentine's Card!
Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned, but before his execution, he supposedly cured his jailor’s daughter of her blindness. Obviously demonstrating the power of Christ, and thus convincing the jailor’s whole household to convert to Christianity! He is then purported to have left a farewell note to Julia, the jailor’s daughter, signed “Your Valentine”.
Legend has it he was also accused of illegally marrying Christian soldiers and their beaus in clandestine ceremonies. During these ceremonies, he presented the men with hearts cut from parchment to remind them of their vows.
So, although the story is only loosely based on facts, it provides a distant template for the present-day tradition of sending heart-covered cards with the enigmatic inscription “From your Valentine”.
Does Chaucer Tell A Different Tale?
The tradition of Saint Valentine’s Day didn't apparently exist until much, much later. Chaucer's 'Parlement of Foules' includes mention of Valentine's Day traditions but there is no previous known record of such. Written in 1382, it recounts a dream and describes a flock of mating birds. Scholars interpreting the work believe the reference to behaviour on Saint Valentines Day is fictional. Which could mean Chaucer inadvertently invented the now ubiquitous Valentine's Day traditions.
From 'The Parliment of Fowls' by Geoffrey Chaucer (1342 - 1400) Verse 45
"Ye knowe wel how, Seynt Valentynes day,
By my statut and through my governaunce,
Ye come for to chese -- and flee your way --
Your makes, as I prik yow with plesaunce.
But natheles, my rightful ordenaunce
May I not lete, for al this world to winne,
That he that most is worthy shal beginne."
You can read the rest here www.librarius.com
If he did start off the Valentine's Day traditions, some of the details had already got mixed up. Given that birds are too cold and busy searching for food in February to get down to mating, Chaucer was probably referring to Saint Valentine of Genoa whose death in 307 would more likely have been celebrated in early May. So we've taken Chaucer's lead on the traditions and pinned them to a different Saint Valentine who is celebrated in February. Are you following?
Who Cares Anyway, Let's Just Celebrate LOVE!
Fabulously, when it comes to Saint Valentine’s Day it appears we’re unconcerned with historical accuracy or relevance! Myth, legend, fact or rumour, whoever he was, wherever he lived, Valentine is a great name, let’s use it! However tenuous the links, romance is worthy of a celebration!
It seems the world was crying out for an official day on which to secretly, or flamboyantly, declare and celebrate LOVE! 14th February is as good a day as any, not much else happening ‘til Easter… So, we’ve kept it, in my opinion for the sake of love itself and I think that alone is worth celebrating!
Love is in the air!
I believe in being ‘in love’ with or without a partner. It’s a way of being in the world, of recognising the presence of love in yourself and all around you. Every single one of us is born with a heart full of love and the capacity for unconditional love for others, we can lose sight of it in the turmoil of daily life and the confusion of desire but it’s still there if we take a moment to recognise it.
If we’re lucky or dedicated enough, we can recognise unconditional love when we make eye contact with those we care about, friends, lovers, pets even! We can see it in every ordinary moment should we pause to recognise it. From a sunrise, to the stars, from enjoying a warming drink on a cold night to the scent of a fresh, new rose. When we live 'in love' we attract love to us, we radiate our most beautiful self and become irresistible! Whether you have a lover or not, whether you want a lover or not, make Valentine’s Day a day to recognise love within and without and to give yourself unconditional love
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
Thanks for reading, best wishes from Blue Badge Co.