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St Valentine's Day History and Customs

Valentine's day history - VictorianSt Valentine's Day History and Customs for 14th of February

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The Legend of St Valentine

St Valentine's day history goes back to Roman times.  The emperor Claudius II was a student of human nature and way back in AD 287 he calculated that single men made braver soldiers than married men.  Therefore, as Claudius had absolute power, he dictated than no soldier should marry.  A Roman called Valentinus thought that this was rough justice and secretly married soldiers who had a sweetheart.

When Claudius discovered that Valentinus had defied his decree he threw Valentinus into jail.  Whilst incarcerated, Valentinus fell in love with the gaoler's daughter and sent her the first ever card - from your sweet Valentine.  St Valentine 14th Feburary

St Valentine

Much later, in AD 496 Pope Gelasius, chose 14 February as the day to honour and remember Saint Valentine.  Unfortunately, tantalisingly little is known about these early origins of St Valentine.

In the history of St Valentine's day, it is the 17th century which was the most important and truly romantic era.  The 14th of February became important as a day to exchange love notes by sending poems and gifts. Sometimes dances and small festivals were held.

In modern times, 1416, Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent one of the earliest Valentines, from his imprisonment in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt.  He sent several Valentine poems to his wife in France.

Picture to the right from ComeAndSeeIcons.

Valentine Shock

St Valentine 'Not the saint of love'

Britain's Roman Catholic Church is advising lovelorn singles to direct their 14 February requests for love to St Raphael, rather than St Valentine.  Over the years St Valentine has come incorrectly to be associated with finding love, the Church says.  He is the patron saint for those who have already found their soul mate.  St Raphael is the patron saint for happy encounters and it is to him those fearing the Valentine's post should properly direct their prayers.

Valentine Angels' Folklore

Angels have a rich theology and mythology.  Angels invariably have wings and a halo.  They are angels of mercy, and in the case of Cupid, the Valentine angel, has his bow ready to fire an arrow into the heart of your beloved.

Other angels carry religious messages, most notably the Archangel Gabriel who foretells of Mary's conception and the birth of Jesus.  There is a common belief that angels are the souls of dead babies.

Lonely Hearts

Lonely hearts advertisements made their debut in Britain in 1695.  The first appeared in the Collection for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade, placed by a 30 year old man with "a very good estate" looking for "some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000 or thereabouts."

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Valentine Day Crafts and Customs

In Guy's home country of Wales wooden love spoons are made and given as presents on 14 February. Hearts, keys and keyholes feature as decorations on these carved spoons as and invitation to 'unlock my heart'.Welsh love spoons

Valentines day history in Medieval times saw the youth of the time wearing names drawn from a hat on their sleeves. Hence the modern expression 'to wear your heart on your sleeve' . This means that other people can easily see what you are feeling.

If a young lady sees a sparrow on February 14th flying overhead it means that she will marry a poor man and be extremely happy. If she saw a robin she would marry a mariner. A goldfinch seen by a woman meant that she would marry into riches.

St Valentine's commercialisation probably began with the making and selling of cards in the 18th century.  Women in the 18th century would write men's names on paper, roll them in clay and place them in a bowl of water. The first paper to rise to the surface would contain the name of a woman's true love.

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Chinese St Valentine's Day History and Customs Chinese Valentine's Day - Love

Legend has it that the seventh daughter of the Emperor of Heaven, a weaving maid, fell in love and married a cowherd. They were overindulgent in their love and neglected their farming and weaving duties, which angered the Jade Emperor. As punishment, he exiled them to opposite banks of the Silver River [Milky Way], and only allowed them to meet each other once a year on the night of the seventh day of the seventh month.

This legend has been handed down for nearly two millennia. The Chinese people believe that the star, Vega, east of the Milky Way, is Zhi Nu, and that Altair, on the western side of the Milky Way, is Niu Lang waiting for his wife.

The seventh day of the seventh lunar month is the only Chinese festival devoted to love in the lunar calendar. Chinese Valentine's Day traditions abound and this special day is celebrated differently depending on the Chinese province.

As a result the Chinese Valentine's Day is always on the Seventh Day of the Seventh Month on the Chinese calendar, and not on February 14th! Thus the Chinese Valentine's Day 2010 is on August 16th.

See more on the Chinese Valentine's Day

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Wise Words

Never have children, only grandchildren.
Gore Vidal

Rosette Nebula - Especially for Valentines

Rosette Nebula

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