Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day brings out the romantic and the cynical. Yesterday there was much debate on whether the holiday was manufactured by Hallmark. The answer is no, but the true origins of Valentine's Day are a little harder to pin down.

February 14 is the feast day of St. Valentine, patron saint of love, engaged couples and happy marriages. Valentine was the name of several early Christian martyrs and the feast day was establshed in 496AD though it is unclear which martyr was being honored. Later scholars theorized that the intent was to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, a fertility festival.

The first written reference to Valentine's Day may be Geoffrey Chaucer's Parlement of Foules (1382), penned to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. They were both 13-14 years old at the time. The Medieval cult of courtly love picked up the tradition of exchanging verses or words of love in mid-February. Symbols of the day are hearts, flowers and cupids.

It wasn't until Victorian times that handwritten notes were replaced by commercial cards. In the 20th century, Valentine's Day has become big business, and woe betide the man who forgets his sweetheart on February 14th, much to the delight of the floral, candy and greeting card industries.

This year my Valentine's Day gift was a piece of carrot cake with a red icing heart on top. Not the most romantic gift, perhaps, but quite delicious.

How are you celebrating today?



Teresa said...

The history behind Valentine's Day is really interesting, Linda. I didn't realize it went back so far in time.

Travis Erwin said...

Happy Valentines Day.

deboradale said...

LOL. LOVE your gift, Linda. The red heart on top made it extra special, I'm sure. :-)
We're waiting until next week to celebrate. Hubby works weekends, so we weren't together for "the" day. Anyhoo, it's kind of nice to go out for a Valentine dinner without hundreds of other people doing the same thing.

Kathleen Rowland said...

Linda, it was great seeing you yesterday, Valentines Day, at OCCRWA. I ate entirely too much chocolate since it was all over the place. Thanks for the historical perspective of Valentines Day, very interesting!

Linda McLaughlin said...

Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day.

Debbie, you and your hubby are better off celebrating later. Lots of restaurants jack up their prices for the holiday plus it won't be so crowded.

Kathleen, it was fun visiting with you on Sat. Great job on the e-publishing panel.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We went to see a Swedish vampire movie and a play: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. In between, Korean food. I wish someone Korean would tell us what to order other than barbecue and Bibimbop.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Patti, you had an international Valentine's Day. Wish I could help on the Korean food, but all I know is kim chi. No, I've never tasted it. The barbecue sounds good though.