Monday 14 February 2011

St Valentine

"The heart has its reasons that reason does not know."     
Blaise Pascal in Pensées

This lovely St Valentine's Day card,
postmarked 1862, has the printed message
"My Dearest Miss, I send thee a kiss."
The lucky Miss Jenny Lane 
of Crostwight Hall, Norfolk was the recipient.
  One romantic legend has it that this day for lovers originated as far back as 269AD, when a Roman priest called Valentine was martyred for continuing to perform secret marriages in defiance of Emperor Claudius II edict that young men must remain single.

In a meeting between Claudius and Valentine, Claudius was so impressed by Valentine, he tried to get him to renounce his faith, but when Valentine refused he was martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith, despite having healed his jailer’s blind daughter. On 14th February 269AD, before he was beheaded, he sent off a note to his beloved, signing it “From your Valentine”. That certainly puts a new perspective on losing your head for love.

Sadly, there’s not much fact in this legend. There were at least three early martyrs called Valentine!

In Ancient Rome, an archaic rite connected to fertility, Lupercalia, was held, with the Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier "or "the chaste Juno," celebrated on February 13–14. Pope Gelasius I (492–496) abolished Lupercalia and the first real recorded reference associating Valentine’s Day with lovers comes from Geoffrey Chaucers “Parlement of Foules” (1382) who wrote during a time when the traditions of courtly love where at their peak.

The earliest surviving Valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415. Charles survived his imprisonment but his wife, Bonne d'Armagnac, didn’t live to see his return from captivity. At least she had his Valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day! What are you sending your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Husband and I promised each other no present (we’re making a stand against rampant commercialism) and we’ve promised each other only one card each! But (shhh! don’t tell) I cheated: how could I only choose one card? I bought all the ones I liked and for the last week I’ve been mailing him one card A DAY to his office. I haven’t signed them, so let’s hope he remembers to mention them or, on this Valentines Day, he may find himself in more trouble than the Bugs Moran gang did in 1929!


Amanda Holly said...

I'm with you on the pact not to give in to this blatant commercialist ... ermmm no actually I did succumb to the temptation of buying little heart shaped tins with delicious Lindt chocolate! What's a chocoholic supposed to do ... stop breathing? ;-)

Bish Denham said...

Ha! You've done some of the same research I have. Here's another little fact: In 1872 an English newspaper reported over 150,000 extra pieces of mail passed through a single post office during Valentine's.

Robyn Campbell said...

Love this post, Judy. Awesome story of Valentine being martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Now that;s the kind of love we all should have for our maker. :)

I'm cooking him dinner. Dang he's a lucky man. *grin* Plus, you know I MUST give my other Valentine (Christopher) tons of kisses, candy, and a present. WE LOVE YOU!

Robyn Campbell said...

Okay, I meant that's the kind of... :)

CA Heaven said...

We have no tradition for celebrating Valentine's Day in our country. However, in the last few years it has been growing, mostly as a commercial event, another opportunity to sell stuff to people who own more than enough already. In our family we don't pay much attention to it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day, and I support your non-commercial way >:)

Cold As Heaven

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks for the interesting post, Judy, and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY to you and your hubby!! Wishing you a fun exchanging of cards and the pure enjoyment of just spending time together ;).

Lisa said...

Thank you for a very interesting background on Valentine. It was very interesting and I so enjoyed the way you tell it.

When I had my husband (he passed away about 3 years ago), we didn't really celebrate Valentine's day, well I thought we didn't, because now I found Valentine cards everywhere!

Happy love day to you and your husband. And Judy, thank you for taking time to answer my question in your last post.

Damaria Senne said...

Love the historical background on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, didn't have a Valentine (lucky you!) so I dinner with friends. It was lovely though.

I hope husband enjoyed getting the cards?

Claire Robyns said...

Fascinating post, Judy. I got a vague version of the Roman Priest yesterday from the kids who hadn't paid enough attention in class beyond the 'they chopped off his head, mum, cool, hey?'

Sending a card a day is a stunning idea, let us know if he says anyting.

Hubby and I don't do Valentyne - he's the kind who brings me flowers a couple of times a month, surprises me with gifts and perfume out of nowhere and when I least expect - he believes that love is about everyday, not one commercial day, and I'm happy enough with the result, lol. I do enjoy the Valentine vibe, though, I love walking through the shops strung with heart balloons and shiny wrapped chocolates:)

Anita said...

I gave my husband some unmentionables, as well as sweatpants and swim goggles. Also, the headline for my Sunday-before-Valentine column mentioned my husband, so I told him that was also a present. :)

The quote you used on the post is one of my favorite. And don't you just love the name Blaise?

Stephanie Faris said...

That's an awesome idea -- a card each day. I may have to try that next year!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

AMANDA: The only answer for a choc-o-holic at Valentine’s is to stock up on as many free heart-shaped choccies as possible!!

BISH: Good heavens! That’s a lot of extra post! I wonder what the figures would be today or if e-cards have actually reduced the post around Valentine’s Day?

ROBYN: Hope your Valentine(s) enjoyed their special dinner…and that our special Valentine enjoyed his candy and kisses!

COLD: Over here, Valentine's Day has alwasy been big. And in the past few years, Halloween is (unfortunately) growing into a bigger event each year. If I had underprivileged children banging on my gate asking for sweets I probably wouldn’t mind, but when loads of spoilt brat…er, kids, come demanding treats I give them my Halloween witch impression!

MARILYN: Hope you had a GREAT V-Day with your loved ones as well!

OCEAN GIRL: Sorry to hear about your husband’s passing :( I hope that you have a long life with many happy memories of him to enjoy.

DAMARIA: I think it’s a lovely idea that you stretched Valentine’s Day to include another type of love: friendship. Husband is still waiting for most of the cards to arrive…!

CLAIRE: Ha! I can just imagine the twins being more fascinated with the head chopping than the romance! Boys will be boys! Love your hubby’s idea that love is an all year event to celebrate! I must confess Beric is far more romantic than I am (he has kept every card I’ve ever sent him; mine are binned a few weeks later!)

ANITA: A headline in a newspaper is a Valentine’s Day present to beat all presents!! I love that quote too, but Blaise always makes me think of a comic strip I used to read as a kid called “Modesty Blaise” (a sort of early version of Lara Croft!)

STEPHANIE: Lovely to have you visit. Sadly, husband has only received 3 of the 8 cards so far. I’m hoping the rest arrive before next Valentine’s Day!

Helen Ginger said...

We went out to dinner, which was very nice. Just the two of us at a small table.

Glynis Jolly said...

A beautiful sentiment. This is the first time reading the story behind St. Valentine.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

HELEN: A cosy Valentine's dinner for two is about as romantic as one can get. Hope the food was yum!

GLYNIS: My research into the history of Valentine's surprised me as well! In truth, I was a bit disappointed...more than one St Valentine doesn't seem quite as romantic, does it?