Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Origin of Valentine's Day

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine's Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial--which probably occurred around A.D. 270--others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat's hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine's Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”--at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine's Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
Original Post http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Shop For Rose Flowers
As if choosing a specific rose color weren’t enough to express your innermost thoughts, you can convey your message through the number of stems or the type of rose you select. For example, a bouquet of roses (representing innocent love) says “you’re forever young and beautiful,” while a thornless rose says “love at first sight,” and the tea rose says “I’ll remember you always.” Refer to the list below to find out how different numbers of stems can represent different messages of love.
How Many Roses Do I Send?

On a first date, a single rose symbolises love at first sight. it can also be given in years to come to say, "I still love you."

TWO-Give someone two roses to represent your mutual love and affection.

THREE-Representing the couple and their shared love, a bouquet of three roses is
traditional one month anniversary gift.

SIX-Whether it's a school crush or a more mature passion, six roses symbolizes infatuation.

NINE-To send the message “We’ll be together forever,” send a bouquet

TEN-Let them know that their love is perfection with a bouquet of ten roses.

TWELVE-A perfect dozen shouts "Be mine!"

THIRTEEN-Tell someone that they'll be your friend forever with a bouquet of thirteen roses.

FIFTEEN-Need to let someone know that you're sorry? Send them fifteen roses.

TWENTY-Send the message "my feelings for you are truly sincere" with a bouquet of twenty roses.

TWENTY ONE-Twenty-one roses say, "I'm dedicated to you/"

TWENTY FOUR-Two dozen roses shouts "I'm yours!"

TWENTY FIVE-Send a message of congratulations with twenty-five roses.

THIRTY SIX-Three dozen says "I'm head over heels in love!"

FORTY-Forty roses says, "my love for you is genuine."

FIFTY or MORE-To express a love that knows no bounds, send a bouquet that's equally as limitless - filled with fifty (or more) beautiful luxurious roses.

A Few More Tidbits

Did you know that roses are not only native to the United States, but they are also our national floral emblem? Or that June is National Rose Month? Or that the rose is the state flower selected by Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota and the District of Columbia?

The beauty of this extraordinary bloom is matched only by its seemingly boundless history and legend. For example, it’s said that Cleopatra once received her beloved Marc Antony in a room knee-deep in rose petals, and that the rose was sacred in ancient times as it represented Aphrodite to the Greeks (and Venus to the Romans), symbolizing beauty and love.

An old legend has it that originally all roses were white. One night, a nightingale saw a rose and fell deeply in love, inspiring him to sing a song. (Before this, nightingales only chirped and croaked.) When his passion overtook him, he pressed himself against the flower, and when the thorns pierced his heart. Ever after, the rose was forever colored red.