With less than a month before Valentine's Day and the pandemic still raging around the world, how will many that participate in this day do it while social distancing? Maybe a look at how this holiday was practiced centuries ago will shed more light on whether we need to celebrate it or not.
According to www.History.com, gift such as candy, flowers, jewelry are exchanged between lovers all in the name of St. Valentine. According to the Catholic Church, at least three different saints are named Valentine or Valentinus, and all three were martyred. One was a priest that served during the third century in the time of Emperor Claudius II. This Emperor decided only single men make the best soldiers and outlawed marriage for young men. Defying Claudius' decree Valentine continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered his action. he was sentenced to death. This is also true for the second St. Valentine, a bishop, Claudius beheaded him.
The third Valentine was a Christian prisoner that fell in love with his Roman jailor's daughter. The legend says he sent the first love letter to her and signed the letter, "From your Valentine." These romantic legends grew to popularity in England and France by the Middle Ages.
The Pagan Festival Lupercalia, a festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. The festival was a fertility ritual of a sacrificial goat and they wrapped the Roman women with the hides to make them more fertile in the coming year. Once wrapped they would place their names in a large urn and the city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired with the chosen woman. Christianity outlawed this ritual deeming in "un-Christian."
The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer often took liberties with history, there is no real documentation of the celebration of St. Valentine's Day before his 1375 work "Parliament of Foules." Referencing February 14th to the day of mating for all creatures, "For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's Day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate."
So how did cupid make its way into the holiday? According to Greek poets, Cupid is a Greek god of love and was handsome and played with the emotions of Gods and men, using his golden arrows to incite love. However, now he is portrayed as a playful chubby child with mischievous intentions.
Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s and in the 1840s Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines. She is known as the "Mother of the Valentine." According to Greeting Card Association, 85 percent of the valentines are sent by women. With an estimated 145 million cards sent each year.
So as the pandemic keeps us apart, will this number double, or are the recipients or senders of this holiday take the year off for lack of importance, finance, or just because it has no meaning in today's environment? I am not a big fan of this holiday. The perk of home delivery is refreshing not to have to see all the bouquets, displays of candy, and cards at the entrance of my local stores.
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