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Valentine's Day - History

Janelle Barnes

A Brief History of Valentine's Day

 

The oldest known valentine still in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) But the origins of this tradition can be traced back to 5th century Rome, and a combination of pagan ritual and Catholic mythology.

 

A pagan fertility festival “ Lupercalia” was traditionally held on February 15. Among other things, this involved priests slapping young women and fields of crops with strips of the bloodied hide of a sacrificial goat to improve their fertility in the coming year. There was also an annual matchmaking event, where all the young women in the Rome would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each select a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. At the end of the 5th century this event was outlawed and Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St.Valentines day.

 

The Catholic Church recognises three separate St.Valentines, all of whom were martyred by the Romans. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. *

 

Geoffrey Chaucer in the middle ages and Shakespeare (in Hamlet) make literary reference to

Valentines Day as a day for romantic love. The first gifts exchanged were love poems.

Hand made valentines became popular from the 1700s, with the first mass produced items of lace, ribbons and scrap paper appearing in the US in the 1840s. Hallmark began printing Valentine's cards in 1913 and now, a century later over a billion cards are purchased each year.

Our cards are unique and a little fun.

 

*Source : history.com


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