When February emerges, we all think of one day: February 14th. It keeps us warm during these particular cold month and something to look forward to among those grey and cold days. During this time, we share chocolates, special dinners, loving cards with our loved ones. However, where is Valentine’s Day originating from?
When you search the internet for Valentine’s Day, you can find many stories about Valentine and the name or shall we say them. One of our favourite legends, tell the story about Valentine the 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, Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine could not bear this injustice. Thus he did not obey Claudius’s law and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered to put him to death.
So what has this all to do with poetry?
All artists from painters, poets, acrobats, musicians typically were being hired by royalty / authorities. In this case, this is not much different. Chaucer wrote a peom to celebrate the first anniversary of Kind Richard’s II and Anne of Bohemia’s engagement. And thus it is largely considered the first written instance where Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love. And the lines in the poem goes like this that put the Valentine’s Day movements into motion.
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”
For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.
Poetry and its meaning
The relation to birds in the poem, indicates the beginning of bird’s mating season. As it was believed in England and France in those days. By the time the Julian calendar became the Gregorian calendar, February 14 actually became the 23, which is a time when some birds start mating and nesting in England. Either way, it added to the notion that Valentine’s Day was for romance. By 1415, people were writing handmade valentines to one another. Like the famous poem by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, “A Farewell to Love,” that was sent to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. And by Shakespeare’s time—“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, all in the morning bedtime, and I am maid at your window, to be your Valentine”; the romantic version of Valentine’s Day that we all know had become popular throughout almost all of Europe.
Did you know, in 2016, approx 6 million couples got engaged on Valentine’s Day.
From Industrialisation to Now
When the industrial revolution commenced in the US, Valentine’s Day went from being a legend, to a historical day of romance to full-blown money making machine. In 1913, Hallmark Cards offered pre-made valentines, and in 1916 started mass producing them. The day of romance was born, as a commercial holiday. Since then, the day is not only about buying cards, but it’s also about buying flowers, chocolate, and jewellery. And it is the day when most man propose to their loved ones. And people trying unsuccessfully to get reservations at halfway-decent restaurants. Love is still in the air, but there’s no doubt the holiday is more about “stuff” nowadays than romance.
We encourage you, if you want to believe one of those legends, or even the true story according to historians where Valentine started to be established in the Middle Ages – regardless – make it special !! Don’t fall into the commercialised trap and follow all the woohoo. Make it unique! Make it yours! And overall, you also don’t need one day to express how much you love your dear ones. Everyday we live in this world is a special day. And act of kindness should not be saved for ONE day only in the year. Acts of kindness and love should be sprinkled all over the place, everyday.