Valentine’s Day is in the air; and while people all over the world have already plans for this weekend, it would be great to get back into history for a legends roundup. The day is currently regarded as lovers’ day.
Prior to 1500, men picked a name from among a stack of women’s name in a box, and she would be his sweetheart. Thus, the word Valentine meant the person who was somebody’s partner. Later, it pointed to a folded paper with the name of the sweetheart on it. By 1610, people called the gift given to a special someone, Valentine. By 1824, it referred to a letter, poem or verse for a sweetheart.
Valentine’s Day is said to come from the Norse’ St. Galantin, which meant, lover of women. They pronounced “G” as “V”, hence, the word sounded “Valantin.” It was believed that Valentine’s Day was actually St. Galantin’s Day. The French likewise claim Valentine’s comes from their word galantine, meaning, gallant or lover.
Another piece of history suggests that the word Valentine comes from a man with such name, a prisoner who was jailed for helping Christians. He converted his jailer and his family into the Christian faith. Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter, and in his execution, he sent a “From your Valentine” message to the girl.
The Valentine’s Day event is also believed to have come from the Romans, who celebrated February 15 as fertility day, wherein the boys drew girls’ name from an urn for their partner. The pair would then exchange gifts on the day of the festival. They also introduced it to France during their invasion.
Another Valentine’s Day – related festival is Lupercalia, celebrated on February 14. This festival was about two Roman youths who received blessings from their priest. The youths then ran through the streets in a goatskin thong called Februa, which Latin word is Februatio, meaning, act of sacred thong lashing. It was believed that any woman touched by the thong would bear children better. The legend says this is to honor the god of crops, Faunus, who was the equivalent of Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and flocks.
The Romans blended February 14 and 15. The former then became the official mating day.
Since this was a pagan practice, Pope Gelasius, in 469 C.E., declared Valentine’s Day, the day of St. Valentine, a young Roman martyr who was said to have died on February 14, 270 C.E. It was to give the festival a touch of Christianity.
At that time, Emperor, Claudius II, prohibited soldiers to marry as it could hinder their service. St. Valentine secretly married young couples. He was killed when discovered.
As for the Valentine’s Day legends, the roundup cannot overlook, the symbols. Cupid is the baby boy symbol with his bow and arrow. Whoever is hit with his arrow could never do anything but fall in love. Roman God of Love Cupid, is the son of Goddess Venus.
Valentine’s Day colors are white for purity of love; red, the human heart’s color and pink for innocence, which combines red and white. These colors dominate Valentine’s cards designs, clothing, candles, stuffed animals, and other commercial items.
Valentine’s Day legends roundup also has love symbols like sugar pie, honey, chocolates, love birds, roses and other flowers. From centuries ago to this day, the annual lovers’ day is celebrated worldwide, and even gets the support of mobile technology with several useful apps.
By Judith Aparri
Photo courtesy of Premier-photo.com – Flickr License