Valentine’s Day 2023 is just around the corner. Is there a special somebody in your life who definitely deserves a special present? Perhaps you haven’t done much to mark February 14 over the last few years, and you wouldn’t be alone. But 2023 is a year of fresh starts, hopes and dreams. If ever there was a time to make the most of every excuse to celebrate life and love, it’s now!
VALENTINE’S DAY: WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Valentine’s Day is observed around the world every year on February 14. Unfortunately, it’s not a public holiday and a day off isn’t for the taking, but it is for the giving! It’s a day for generosity, gifts; expressing joy, affection, love and romance… There will be special packages on offer at restaurants and hotels; people will exchange cards, flowers, chocolates and all sorts of presents…
The tradition of Valentine’s Day goes back around 2,000 years, to the days of the Roman Empire. Many Saints earnt their stripes around the period 200-300 A.D. This was the era when Christianity was spreading swiftly around the Mediterranean world, which was ruled from Rome. But the rulers there still hadn’t decided whether or not to run with this new religious movement. They eventually did. In 323 A.D. Christianity was announced as the official religion of Rome. But in the meantime, many early Christians trying to spread the word met with sticky ends.
VALENTINE AND FEBRUARY 14
Valentine was one such early Christian missionary, whose activities were not appreciated by the Romans – and for that – he lost his head… In hindsight, when they realised the errors of their ways, Valentine became recognised as a Martyr (amongst many others) and was made a Saint. Legend has it that Saint Valentine had been performing Christian style marriages for young people and this is how he was to become associated with love. The Romans already had a holiday on Feb 14 for Juno, who was their pagan Goddess of marriage. It was out with old Juno and in with Saint Valentine, and the tradition stuck.
OVER THE CENTURIES
From then on, St Valentine’s Day on February 14 became a day of fun & feasting and a day to celebrate vitality and fertility. In the northern hemisphere the date coincides with the first signs of Spring coming, which ties in nicely with the theme. US historian and Valentine’s Day expert, Professor Allen Carden, says that, “Legend has it that for the feast there was a drawing where young men drew the name of a young woman who they would escort to the festival, and who knows what else…” In the Middle Ages people believed that someone you met on Feb 14 or dreamed about on the day may be your true love. It was also believed by many that on the 14th of February each year, birds chose their partners. Hence our cute flying friends have always been closely associated with Valentine’s Day.
Over the last few hundred years, the tradition developed from a day where customarily, people would send each other secret romantic messages, to a day where people would openly express their feelings with gifts of cards, chocolates and sweets, flowers and gifts ranging from small tokens of affection through to fine jewellery and even cars. It became known as a day to step out for a romantic lunch or dinner as a couple, or even head off on an amorous adventure in the countryside or down the coast…