Happy Valentine’s Day to all our first responders!
Whether you celebrate St Valentine’s Day or not, you cannot hide from all the heart-shaped cookies and items, red roses, teddy bears, Valentine’s Day cards, red underwear etc that the shops promote and advertise leading up to the 14th of February. Doing some research on Google, shows ancient rituals associated with St Valentine’s Day, with religion at its core.
Saint Valentine, officially Saint Valentine of Rome, was a widely recognised Third-Century Roman saint, commemorated in Christianity on February 14 and since the High Middle Ages is associated with a tradition of courtly love. Saint Valentine of Rome was either a priest (or possibly a bishop) in the Roman Empire who ministered to Christians who were persecuted there. He was martyred and buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome, on February 14, which has been observed as the Feast of Saint Valentine (Saint Valentine's Day) since 496 AD. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church and Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV.
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honouring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognised as a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
Martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14 are presented in martyrologies, including a written account of Saint Valentine of Rome imprisonment for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
Celebration of love
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-Century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards, known as ‘valentines’. Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart, as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy called Saint Valentine's Malady.
The earliest description of 14 February as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love. The charter, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France at Mantes-la-Jolie in 1400, describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, amorous song and poetry competitions, jousting and dancing. Amid these festivities, the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers.
Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on 6 July and 30 July, the former date in honour of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine and the latter date in honour of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).
Whichever tradition you celebrate, whether it be religious or the celebration of love with a special person, we wish you a very happy St Valentine’s Day!