by Bud Smith
Ever wondered how February 14 became, the day on which we celebrate and explore love in all its many ideals, Valentines Day.
There are many differing opinions on how Valentines Day started.
One story say that when the Roman Empire reigned, a festival every February was held in honour of the God of Fertility and during this time, young men would choose their mate. When a Emperor named Claudius can around, he outlawed all marriages in fear that the men would not be able to fight. Young couples still fell in love though and still wished to marry and they took these desires to the Catholic Bishop Valentine who, understanding love, began to secretly marry couples. When Claudius found out, he had Valentine arrested and ordered put to death. While waiting in jail, Valentine began exchanging letters with the jailers daughter and soon had fallen in love with her. The day he was to be beheaded, he wrote her one last note and signed it: From Your Valentine.
Another story points to Christianity in 496 A.D outlawing the pagan Lupercian Festival and replacing it with a day in February to honour the martyr St. Valentine.
A third story as to the origin of passing out cards stems from a French Count who was captured and imprisoned in London. From his cell he wrote his wife letters, including a passionate set of poems which he sent to her in February.
At the turn of the century, a new form of Valentines Day card appeared the Penny Dreadful. Up until this point, cards were relatively expensive but the Penny Dreadful changed all that. They were just what the name implied, costing only one cent and completely bad. The cards were cheaply made, the artwork was amateurish and the colouring was uneven. On top of that the verses printed on them were not the most romantic of prose. They were more often insults, taking swipes at old maids, teachers and the like. Still their low cost kept them popular for years.
For hundreds of years, Valentines Day has been a day of symbols. You can hardly go through the day without seeing a rose (as a symbol to Venus, the Goddess of Love), images of doves and lovebirds (who mate for life) or hearts. The heart was thought to be the centre of all emotion. People believed that when they gave a heart, they were truly giving all of the love and emotion that they possibly could give.
Its past aside, Valentines Day is the second the most popular card sending holiday just behind Christmas with one billion a cards sent a year. When the calendar turns to February, we start to think of love. February has for centuries been designated the month for lovers, with the primary celebration being on February 14, St. Valentines Day. We send cards, flowers, and candy and our children give out Valentines in school. Valentines Day reminds us to tell our loved ones just how much we care about them.
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