The Origins of Valentine’s Day

Love birds

We all know Valentine’s Day is 14 February and is a day to celebrate love and romance and to declare one’s love. But how many of us actually know the origins Valentine’s Day? We didn’t so we decided to find out!

St Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of the martyrdom of two particular Christian saints – Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Matyrologies were created for these saints. In one story, Valentine was imprisoned for marrying soldiers in ancient Rome – Emperor Claudius II thought that men made better soldiers if they had no wives or children to think about, and so forbade them to marry. Valentine disregarded this decree and went to prison as a result. Another story says that before he was executed, he wrote a letter to to his jailer’s daughter and signed it “Your Valentine”.

However, the truely romantic side of things is said to have begun with Cahucer’s poem “Parlement of Foules” written to honour the engagement of the 15 year old Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. In this there is a reference to birds starting to mate:

For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

It was commonly believed in the Middle Ages that 14 February was the beginning of the mating season for birds.

The oldest known valentine is 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, which begins:

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

However, some scholars believe Valentine’s Day is celebrated on 14 February as an attempt to Christianise the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to the Roman god of Agriculture, Faunus. This festival was outlawed by Pope Gelasius in the fifth century and declared instead to be St Valentine’s Day.

Things really begin to hot up with Valentine’s Day in the late 18th century with the giving of gifts and sending of cards. There was even a book published in 1797 called “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” to provide all sorts of verses for lovestruck men to send to their true loves if they couldn’t think of anything romantic to say themselves!

In the early 19th century Valentine’s Day became commercialised, with factories churning out fancy Valentine cards. And here we are today – with Valentine’s Day still being deemed very romantic and the giving of presents and cards just as popular as ever! It is also the perfect day for proposing marriage to the love of your life, so don’t forget that here at Wildflower Wedding Favours we can supply you with gorgeous eco-friendly products for your wedding, from Save the Dates to favours and table decor!

Teresa SinclairWildflower Favours

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