15 February 2018Feature
February 14th — a day of sending people red roses, and heart-shaped cards, and boxes of chocolates big enough that they don’t mind that you’re not actually there, right? A day following in the tradition of St Valentine, who did…er…something to do with romantic love?
Well, while many are worried about their wallets when Valentine’s Day comes around, I thought it would be interesting to look at the history of the day. Most people know that the day is named after Saint Valentine, but I doubt that many would be able to tell you much more than that.
The problem is, neither can anyone. After a short bit of searching online, it became apparent that most of the ideas around Valentine are myths and legends — and the only things that we seem to know for sure is his name, and that he died and was buried near Rome on February 14th, in about 269 AD. And that’s pretty much it, really.
There are lots of stories about him, of course, that try to link him to romantic love – such as saying that he secretly married couples when it was supposed to be illegal, or that he sent the first Valentine’s card, signing it “from your Valentine”. But these don’t seem to hold much water.
In fact, the first link we seem to have between the celebration of Saint Valentine and anything vaguely romantic wasn’t until over a thousand years later, when Chaucer wrote a short poem about it being the time when birds would choose their mates. From then on it seems to have grown and flourished into what we see today — another opportunity for businesses to sell things at a premium price to people who will pay an arm and a leg, because who would leave their girl empty-handed on Valentine’s Day? Or just another day that the vast number of single people can be reminded of that fact…
But, however you spent it, Happy Valentine’s Day. May you find much love and joy, and on more than one day of the year!