It all started, with a martyr’s love
It may surprise you to learn, Valentines Day has a wicked past. It is hard to imagine the current day of love was created from the tragic demise of a man who wanted others to find forever love.
“When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew” — William Shakespeare
Dark History of Saint Valentine
Valentine’s Day is thought to have originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a celebration for the beginning of spring around mid-February and other obscured events. Some may argue this is not entirely true. Lupercalia also coincides with another event. The real terrible truth, Valentine’s Day results from a man’s execution over 1,750 years ago from love he would not deny. The Valentine’s Day celebration that you know was eventually created for the remembrance of an executed martyr by the name of Saint Valentine around A.D. 269–270 at the order of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus II.
Emperor Claudius II was adamant that his soldiers would not marry or worry of love because he believed soldiers were better when single. However Saint Valentine didn’t follow this rule and arranged marriages for others in secret. This secret didn’t last long and when he was caught, Emperor Claudius II threw him in prison and ordered execution. While in prison, Saint Valentine fell in love with a woman, sneaking her a letter that closed with the words, “From your Valentine.” It is believed that Saint Valentine was executed on February 14th.
It wasn’t until 227 years after Saint Valentine’s death, that they would honor him in the name of love. The first Valentine’s day is believed to have begun in the year A.D. 496. Pope Gelasius I began celebrating the life of martyr Saint Valentine, for his belief in love even when threatened and punished with death.
Pope Gelasius I replaced the Roman festival Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day; a celebration of love and romance on February 14th.
You most likely began seeing the symbolism of this celebration right after Christmas or the New Year. With this celebration right up there with Christmas spending, it’s no wonder retail stores don’t waste time. Below are symbolisms to follow the Valentine’s Day celebration.
- Cupid, the Roman god of love
- The correlation of birds and Valentine’s Day, is believed to connect because of the mating season that usually occurs during February.
- Red roses, candy, hearts, and love letters.
Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a handwritten love letter from a significant other? A love letter dates back to the beginning of Valentine’s Day. The oldest surviving love letter written in English, dates back to February 1477 by a woman named Margery Brews. That’s 500 years ago! The letter was beautifully written and well preserved. Thanks to the British Library, you can take a peek and read the entire letter on their website.
“My heart me bids evermore to love you truly over all earthly things.” — Margery Brews
Hand written letters most likely began around the 1400s. However, the 1800s were the beginning for popular Valentine cards. Esther Howland turned the table with Valentine cards that she began mass producing in 1849. Beautiful handmade Valentine cards with real ribbons and lace. She became known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), one that has conducted studies about Valentine’s Day consumer spending since 2004, estimates that consumers will spend 32% more this year than last year. An estimated value for the U.S. economy to total over 27 billion. Wow, that’s a lot of love. NRF also estimates that spouses will spend an average of $101 on each other.
“I love you more than my own skin” — Frida Kahlo
Why people love to be in love
Love is a funny thing, and many people may believe that they have Cupid to thank. Cupid is a god of love; the infant matchmaker with wings, entrusted with a dangerous bow and arrow. Cupid was the son of the messenger with wings, Mercury, and the love goddess, Venus. They say, Cupid sets his sights on you to inflict love and passion in each new victim. An arrow to the backside for love? I don’t know about you, but the injury inflicted sounds dangerous.
Perhaps Cupid soaks the arrows in what science considers the love potion. The love potion includes three brain chemicals of dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. This potion is what Science Daily refers to as, “the pitter-patter of the heart, restlessness and overall preoccupation.” This madness or obsession you feel for someone you love, can have strange effects on the body.
A key piece of advice when Cupid has hit you with the arrow of love —
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” — Robin Williams.
An interesting perspective to consider that conflicts with the scientific claims above — The American Fiction Writer, Monica Drake, said “The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.” What are your thoughts?
Perhaps this has inspired you to try something new to express your love for someone special.