Valentine’s Day: History, Curiosities and Gifts

In a few days, it will be February 14, the day in which the Lovers’ Day is celebrated in more than half the world. In addition to making proposals for gifts for Valentine’s Day 2020, we will tell you the story behind this celebration and several curiosities that will surely surprise you about this saint, how it is celebrated in different parts of the planet and how long this tradition has been linked to love and romance.

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Best Gift Ideas For Valentine’s Day 2020

Five Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

1 – It is said that the final resting place of the remains of Saint Valentine is in Madrid, where they were moved at the end of the 18th century, a gift for valentines day from Pope Pius VII to Charles IV, and that they rest in a church in Malasaña, that of San Antón, known throughout Spain for the blessings given every January 17th to the pets that hundreds of faithful bring to the temple that day.

Father Angel, founder of Mensajeros de la Paz (Messengers of Peace), an NGO that manages the church of San Antón, was the one who proposed a few years ago to create a new tradition among Madrid’s lovers and visitors from anywhere: any couple can hang a “lovers’ ribbon” on the gate behind which the relics of Saint Valentine are kept in an urn.

2. Among the many saints called Valentine, in addition to those we have mentioned at the beginning, there is a woman, St. Valentina, martyred in Palestine in the year 308 of our era. If you prefer to celebrate Saint Valentina to offer resistance to the patriarchy, you can do so on July 25.

3. The haters were not born with Twitter. In the middle of the 19th century and until the 1940s, vinegar valentines were very popular: printed cards and notes to give to unwanted suitors.

If traditional cards expressed with all their strength “I love you”, these vinegary Valentine’s Day cards expressed in a sour and comical way precisely the opposite emotion. Today they are a precious object for collectors.

4. Valentine’s Day in Spain was introduced as a commercial attraction. You are wrong if you are thinking about the department store you are thinking about. Not at all. In 1948, Galerías Preciados published an advertisement in the newspaper ABC, which was simple but full of Marketinian hopes, asking: “How can we not predict the most brilliant success for Valentine’s Day in Spain? Saturday, February 14th!

5. Here are some figures and statistics that show the importance that continues to be given to this day… Every year about 1,000 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent out. This year 2020, it is estimated that 135 million Americans will spend $20 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts and favors.

And we hope you’re clear on that, because 43 million people who don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day will, to their regret, receive a gift, spending $9.5 billion on gifts that no one wants…

Who Was Valentine?

At least three male saints are the main candidates for the position of patron of lovers in the Christian tradition, the three Romans and the three martyrs. One of them was martyred in the Roman province of Africa and there is hardly any information about his life.
Another was the bishop of the Italian city of Terni (in his time called Interamna), his patron saint’s day is still celebrated on February 14 and his remains are kept in a silver urn on the high altar of the basilica of this town, which is named after the saint.

On the day of his festivity, the Festa della Promesa is celebrated in this temple – still in the 21st century – where Italians and people from other parts of the world come to get engaged in marriage in the presence of Saint Valentine; the couples already married renew their will to stay together for the rest of their lives.

A Roman Priest From the Third Century

But the strongest candidate is the Roman priest Valentine, who was executed in the third century A.D. under the rule of Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelian, successor of Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Gothic. You may wonder why this executed priest became the patron saint of lovers.

Because Claudius Gothic forbade nothing more and nothing less than marriage between young couples because singles were better soldiers and the empire needed military forces for their campaigns. Thus he tackled the problem at its root. One must think that these political strategies that today may seem to us to be nonsense were very common in the Low Roman Empire .

To the priest Valentin that prohibition seemed to him an outrage and as the good man that he was, committed to his community, he continued celebrating marriages between young people in love in secret. When he was discovered, he was executed -supposedly- on February 14, 270. His remains, also allegedly, were buried in the Via Flaminia, outside the city of Rome. In fact, it seems that the today known as Porta del Popolo was called St. Valentine’s Gate.

Although the historical aspects about the patronage of love attributed to Valentine are not very objective, what is an unquestionable reality is that heroism and a halo of romanticism covered this very empathetic character, making him the Christian symbol of the defense of love.

Why Is It Celebrated on February 14th?

As we have said above, the priest Valentin was executed on February 14, 270 and it is reasonable to think that this day was chosen to commemorate him. However, there is no Christian holiday that does not have its origin in a much earlier pagan celebration.

Just as Christian temples were often built on the basis of temples dedicated to very ancient deities before the expansion of Christianity, Western festivals, as we know them today, are a continuation, which was adapted over the centuries, of festivals that began to be celebrated in remote times, associated with the cycles of nature, important moments in human life, such as birth or death, and fertility, mainly and among others.

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Lupercal, the Pagan Holiday That Preceded Valentine’s Day

The lupercalia or lupercales was a festivity that was celebrated in Rome in the middle of February since approximately the sixth century B.C. and was related to rites associated with fertility. It included practices that now seem far removed from our modern vision of romanticism, such as animal sacrifices, violent elements and a strong sexual charge.
After the ritual sacrifice of goats, the priests, called luperci, cut strips from the backsides of the animals and, naked, ran through the city hitting the women with those strips, called februa, who received as a welcome that consecration of fertility on their skin.

Another activity carried out in the lupercales was the random choice of a couple with whom to stay for the duration of the lupercalia; it could happen that the couple stayed together until the festival of the following year and many of them fell in love and ended up getting married.

Since When Is the Day of the Lovers Celebrated?

The lupercals were forbidden at the end of the 5th century A.D. It was Pope Gelasius I who prohibited them in order to establish in their place the saint’s feast on February 14, 494. So, since the 5th century the saint of love was already in the calendar, although it would not be until a few centuries later when his name would appear associated with courtly love.

A 15th Century Valentine’s Day Card

The first known Valentine’s Day “card” dates from 1415. It was a poem that Charles, Duke of Orleans, wrote and sent to his wife, Bonne de Armagnac, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the battle of Agincourt: it is no longer about romanticism. She was 16 and he 21, and he refers to her as “his Valentine”. The poem, written in mid-early French, begins with these two verses: “Je suis desja d’amour tanné / Ma tres doulce Valentinée” (“I am already crazy in love / My very sweet Valentine”). And so much…: the duke would spend 25 years locked up in the tower.

It is not surprising that the first manifestations of this celebration link the saint we are dealing with to literature. The romantic love, as we understand it nowadays, is a pure and hard literary invention that begins in the 11th century, of course, in France: the polite love -fin’amor in Occitan language, which is the first in which this concept was developed-.

Love Notes for Valentine’s Day: From Court to Popularization

Thus, in the sixteenth century, in the French and English courts, the term “Valentine” was used assiduously as an appellation to refer to the beloved among the aristocracy. Already in the middle of the 18th century in England, friends and lovers of all social classes -we must take into account that the literacy rates in this country were the highest in that time- exchanged for Valentine garments of love and handwritten notes with tender messages and promises of eternal devotion شراء عطور

In the 19th century and in the spirit of the industrial revolution, a whole British industry had been created dedicated to the printing of Valentine’s Day cards in which there was no lack of verses, flowers, cupids and hearts to tutiplen.

Valentine’s Day in the United States

This custom was transferred to the New World; in the British colonies of North America, at the beginning of the 18th century, handmade cards -called valentines- were given as gifts. It was a woman from Massachusetts who began marketing Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s in the United States. Esther A. Howland realized that the cards were imported from England and were not always within reach of American pockets.

Using all sorts of fantastic and colorful decorations, such as ribbons, tissue paper, and lace trimmings, she began to produce valentines on a large scale on an assembly line where highly paid employees hand-made these beautiful cards, the design of which is still used today.

In Victorian times, when feelings had to be repressed, on Valentine’s Day brightly colored cards were given to express so much contained emotion in a demure way هدايا الرياض

In some countries, far from the worldly noise due to historical reasons, Valentine’s Day did not appear as a tradition linked to the act of giving until the 20th century. In Spain it was not until 1948 that it began to be celebrated on February 14, and in Russia it has been celebrated since the 1990s, after the fall of the Wall.


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