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History of Saint Valentine

History of Saint Valentine

The Month of Love 

Dating back to the ancient Romans, a feast of Lupercalia was held from the 13th of February to the 15th. This feast was in celebration of fertility and purification. This is considered the origins of Valentine's Day. Read more about how the month of love got its name here

 

Sainte Valentine  

 

Saint Valentine

 While history dating back this far is not always entirely clear, some historians have argued that Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February to be Valentine's Day in an attempt to reclaim the festival from the Romans and Christianise it. This happened around the end of the 5th century. 

As there were two Saints each called Valentine, it is also not entirely clear which Saint this day was dedicated to. Both of these saints were martyred in Rome; Valentine of Terni in around AD 197 and Valentine of Rome in around AD 496.

 

Saint Valentine

 

How did this become Valentine's Day? 

The first recorded reference of Valentine's Day came in 1382 in a poem called Parlement of Foules by Geoffry Chaucer. This was also before there was ever a uniformed spelling of the english language and even the spelling of a writer's name could differ from one recorded document to the next - so enjoy reading the below.  


For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery foul comyth there to chese his make. 


Saint Valentine

 

The second reference 

In 15th-century France, the 14th of February became an annual feast day celebrating romantic love. 

The earliest recorded Valentine greeting was written by the Duke of Orleans, a 15th-century Frenchman who was imprisoned in the tower of London. He wrote the following letter to his wife: 

 

Je suis desja d'amour tanné

Ma tres doulce Valentinée

 

Roughly translated as:  I am already sick of love, my very gentle Valentine.

 

Ophelia

 

William Shakespeare

The next reference came by William Shakespeare's Hamlet, one of his most popular plays of his lifetime which would have played a part in shaping the Valentine reference. In the play Ophelia says: 

 

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine.

 

Roses are red

 

Roses are Red

The most famous line however was printed in a collection of nursery rhymes in 1794.


The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.

 

However if you want to get specific then the origins of these lines actually date back to Sir Edmund Spenser's 1590s epic, The Faerie Queene.  

She bath'd with roses red, and violets blew,

And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

 

Love cards form the 18th century

 

Valentine's Day Cards

Of course all these little references add up to what we have today. The first valentine's day cards were in circulation in the 18th century with lovers making cards that featured flowers and love knots and often including puzzles and lines of poetry. The cards were then slipped secretly under a door or tied to door-knocker for their love to find the next morning. By the Victorian era these cards had become immensely popular and by the mid-19th century these cards had made their way to America to enjoy the spotlight of gooey romance and large love affirming gestures. 

 

Aura Cuffs

Discover the Valentine's Day Gift Guide here.

 

 

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