Monday, February 14, 2011

History of Valentine's Day

Late again, I know, but on purpose this time.  I held off from yesterday until today in honor of today's holiday. Although not my favorite, I find the history of the holiday to be interesting.  Did you know that there are in fact at least fourteen different Saint Valentines?  Or that the holiday is no longer a religious holiday in any way?  It's true!

The collective Saints Valentine were a number of Christian martyrs put to death in ancient Rome.  Whether the holiday was made to celebrate a certain one of the Valentines or if it was a collective holiday has never been determined, although it is certain that the holiday did not evolve until many years later.

Valentine's Day in its modern form, as a celebration of romantic love, originated in the Middle Ages, specifically in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer.  His poem "Parlement of Foules" presented  Valentine's Day as if it was a historical holiday, but no evidence exists to show that this is in fact the case.  There is a great deal of evidence to show that recognition was paid to Saint Valentine(s), with the actual saint's day established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, but no association with love occurs before Chaucer.

For those of you who like to complain that Valentine's Day is a Hallmark holiday, meant only for the greeting card and chocolate companies, you can now support your argument further with the fact that it is no longer a religious holiday at all.  Pope Paul VI deleted it from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969.

For those of you who like this holiday, I would still encourage you to escape from Hallmark anyways-- traditional valentines were hand-made and often quite elaborate.  A great gallery of some can be found here.

Regardless of which side you're on, enjoy the day.  I'll definitely argue that more love in the world, even commercialized love, is never a bad thing.

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