Who is this guy, anyways? Why do we spend countless dollars celebrating in his honor?
According to Wikipedia, the celebrations began in the honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, one of many saints named Valentinus. He would officiate weddings for soldiers whom weren’t permitted to marry and would also minister for Christians. He was imprisoned for his offenses, during which time he is said to have revived the daughter of his jailer. Legend says that as a token of his love before his execution, he wrote the healed woman a farewell letter and signed it “Your Valentine”.
Then, in the Middle Ages, a man named Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem about a couple of “love birds”, which he used to reference the marriage of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.
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.”)
Though it was unlikely that two birds would be mating in February, St. Valentine’s Day stuck to the 14th day of the second month of a new year.
Fast-forward to 20 years later, we have the first record of February 14th being celebrated as an annual day honoring love, in a document called Charter of The Court of Love, written in 1400. The document, delivered by Charles VI of France, tells of extravagant festivities such as a feast, love songs, jousting, dancing and poetry contests. This was attended by the royal court, the ladies of which would hear and rule on lovers’ disputes. Funny thing is, no other record of this event exists! One theory is that the queen, Isabeau of Bavaria imagined it all while waiting out a plague. Whether or not this fanciful ordeal really happened, the rumors of it sparked an incredible holiday that the modern world celebrates with fervor.
The idea of a massive celebration of love took hold quickly, and soon lovers all over the world were writing letters, claiming to be each others’ Valentines. From a Duke captured and trapped in a tower writing love letters to his wife to a poem by Ophelia in Hamlet, the idea of being one’s Valentine took hold quickly and grew exponentially.
I think Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to shower the one you love with even more love than usual, whether it be poems or chocolate, a foot massage or love coupons! Everybody has their own unique way of showing their love and traditions to follow. We should all take a break from the crazy, hectic lives we live and take a little time to appreciate the love you’ve got, even if it’s translated as a love for yourself.
At the end of the day, All You Need Is Love, right? 🙂