Valentine's Day History
Researching Valentines Day history will reveal some interesting facts about a holiday hailed around the world as a celebration for lovers. The history of Valentine's day is rich with fact, fiction, folklore and sentimentality. Surprisingly, the celebration traditionally observed on February 14th originally had nothing to do with love, but rather martyrdom. Named for two early Christian martyrs, St. Valentine of Rome and a bishop by the same name, St. Valentine of Terni, the holiday was void of romanticism until the fourteenth century. According to Valentines Day history, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem entitled Parliament of Foules (Parliament of Fowls) in 1412, which referenced seynt Volantynys day, and made romance its focus. The poem about love birds supposedly commemorated the first year King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia were engaged to be married. Prior to Chaucer's work, the courts of Paris established a High Court of Love, which tried cases involving violence, infidelity, and crimes of passion perpetuated against females. Years later, London continued to lead the world in celebrating what has become the modern era Valentine's Day. The first written expression was perhaps a parting note penned by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife just prior to his capture at the Battle of Agincort in 1415.
The history of Valentine's day also claims that some modern customs of giving gifts and sweets grew out of an ancient Roman festival celebrated on February 15th, called Lupercalia. The festival extolled fertility and romance, but was abolished and converted into a Christian observance by Roman Catholic Pope Gelasius I, who proclaimed February 14th as Valentine's Day in the late 5th century; no doubt to purge the holiday from its pagan trappings. Romantic love is even recorded in the Bible in the Song of Solomon, a poetic exchange between King Solomon and an elusive lover. The Song has been interpreted to depict a type of Christ's intimate relationship with the Church, which is often called the Bride. "The song of songs, which is Solomon's. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee" (Song of Solomon 1:1-3). "Husbands, so love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).
The history of Valentine's Day also reveals that the British practice of sending greetings to sweethearts caught on in America through the efforts of one young woman. Around 1848, Esther Howland, the daughter of a Worcester, Massachusetts stationer, came up with the bright idea of duplicating Valentine cards in large quantities. Ms. Howland persuaded her father to mass produce Valentine cards similar to one she had received from an English admirer. The traditional red hearts and lace trimmings mimicked by Ms. Howard have since become the pattern for countless cards. Since Esther Howland's innovative move to produce Valentine cards en masse, over one billion love notes have been mailed annually all over the world.
Valentines Day history includes early Medieval folklore claims that one of the St. Valentines was arrested and subsequently executed for defying an order from Roman Emperor Claudius II which forbade young soldiers from marrying. It is believed that the Emperor felt that marriage detracted from a soldiers ability to focus on military duties. Legend has it that St. Valentine was also in love with the jailer's daughter and left her a parting love note just prior to being executed, which was signed, from your Valentine. Folklore aside, this lover's celebration in some form or the other, is observed annually all over the world. In North America, particularly the United States, and in France and Great Britain, Valentine cards, flowers and chocolates are traditionally shared between lovers on February 14th. The Danes and Norwegians are also avid celebrants, choosing also to observe February 14th as a time for lovers to send cards and red roses, or enjoy an intimate dinner. But in Romania, February 24th marks an annual observance for loving couples, called Dragobete. Valentines Day history also records Ystavanpaiva, a Finnish holiday translated Friends Day, which is more platonic and includes sharing cards and gifts between best buddies, instead of intimate couples. Sizzling South American countries like Brazil embrace a similar sweetheart's date, called Dia dos Namorados, or Day of the Enamored. Dia dos Namorados is observed on June 12th when couples in love jubilantly celebrate with cards, chocolates, and flowers. Loyal to the annual Carnival holiday observed on or about February 15th, Brazilians prefer to set aside the June 12th date for lovers.
While the history of Valentine's Day clearly demonstrates its global popularity, some sectors find the holiday offensive on two counts: commercialism and its pagan roots. Selling hearts and flowers is big business and many feel that consumerism has corrupted an otherwise noble celebration of love. Anti-Valentinists complain that candy companies, florists, jewelers, and retailers from nearly every market have over-commercialized February 14th and reduced it to the second most lucrative shopping season in the year, next to Christmas. Industries banking on higher consumer buying around February 14th pull out all the stops when it comes to marketing merchandise to lovers. Months before February, retailers stock shelves with ample merchandise: from cards, chocolates, balloons, and plastic flowers; to underwear, cologne, bedding, and teddy bears emblazoned with hearts, cupids and dollar signs. Figures indicate that Valentine consumers spend over $17 billion annually in gifts, dining out, and flowers. Chocolate sales topped $320 million in 2007 and over 217 million red roses were sold nationwide in the same year. The trend toward consumerism may necessitate re-writing the history of Valentine's Day to chronicle its fall from grace as an event for lovers to an annual opportunity for Wall Street to revel in increased net profits.
History Of St. Patrick's DayThe history of St Patricks Day is not what many may imagine it to be. A young boy, confused about religious convictions, is taken captive by Irish marauding slave traders, intent on ravaging Scottish villages and taking prisoners to do the work on the island farms. Patrick (the Christian name, not the pre-baptismal name) was the son of a man who was important in the city where the boy grew up, and this religious influence in life came from the lad's grandfather. While growing up however, Patrick did not participate in the religious beliefs of his family. After being captured, Patrick found prayer to be efficacious on a daily basis, which provided religious sustenance through trials as a slave.
St. Patricks Day history relates that Patrick was taken captive in the early 400's A.D. and sent to Ireland. Six years were spent as a slave, tending sheep and suffering through many mistreatments and trials. The young man tended to have dreams, and probably because of the small religious influence in life, attributed these dreams to a holy influence impacting upon existence as a captive. The boy had dreams of getting up and running away, and did so. How someone can just get up and walk away from slavery is not clear, but according to legend the lad escaped. So this young Scottish boy found himself now journeying back to Scotland, and dreaming of becoming a missionary. Patrick decided he would work and save money until there was enough to put himself through religious education, which was accomplished when he was in his 40's. St. Patricks Day history relates that Patrick was taken captive in the early 400's A.D. and sent to Ireland. Six years were spent as a slave, tending sheep and suffering through many mistreatments and trials. The young man tended to have dreams, and probably because of the small religious influence in life, attributed these dreams to a holy influence impacting upon existence as a captive. The boy had dreams of getting up and running away, and did so. How someone can just get up and walk away from slavery is not clear, but according to legend the lad escaped. So this young Scottish boy found himself now journeying back to Scotland, and dreaming of becoming a missionary. Patrick decided he would work and save money until there was enough to put himself through religious education, which was accomplished when he was in his 40's.
The missionary was not the very first missionary to Ireland. An earlier mission was undertaken by a person named Palladius, who was there only for a short time before succumbing to sickness and then death. Shortly thereafter, the church sent Patrick, who joyfully went in Palladius' place. Patrick had already decided, prior to arriving in Ireland, what the plan would be to introduce the natives to Christianity. The decision was that he would first try to convert the chieftains of the tribes, since much authority was wielded by chieftains over the clans, and this would be the best way to influence from the top down. Next, because Ireland was a very pagan country, he would utilize a pagan symbol, the shamrock, as an object lesson about the Trinity. The three leaves represented the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which seemed to go over quite well with everyone, and were well understood. In this manner, Christianity soon spread over the Island and St. Patricks Day history slowly came together. Jesus commanded his disciples to be missionaries and said "Gye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:19 KJV).
All throughout life the missionary created many bishops, founded churches and expanded the religion until his death on March 17 in 461. Because he founded Christianity in Ireland, he is referred to as the patron saint, and now there are yearly celebrations honoring him and his work. The holiday was now one of the most important dates for the Irish. St. Patricks Day history is celebrated not only in Ireland but all over the world by young and old. In the United States of America, the festival was first celebrated on the East coast in the early 1700's, most by affluent people. Later on it was celebrated more by those who came to America seeking freedom to worship as they pleased, in the late 1700's, after hearing of America's independence from King George III. Since so many Irish were now emigrating to America, the celebrations only grew in popularity and fervency. The festival became the opportune time to let go and have fun, celebrating and identifying with past heritage.
St. Patricks Day history is not so well known among modern generations, and most must research the topic to become familiar with it. The history of St Patricks Day is associated with the color green, perhaps because of the emerald Isle. Also, shamrock symbols are abundant, probably hearkening back to the lesson on the Trinity presented using the shamrock as a visual aid. College students and adults love to flock to popular pubs to drink green beer, and if you don't wear green, you'll most likely get pinched. Elementary schools study the history of St Patricks Day and sometimes celebrate with parties. The children may wear green top hats with shamrocks in them, wear buckled shoes and draw pictures with pots of gold at the end of rainbows, symbolizing the luck of the Irish.
The history of St Patricks Day has so influenced the American culture that the festival is celebrated with parades, similar to the Macys parade on Christmas and New Years. The celebrations usually include Irish dances, Celtic gifts displaying all types of Celtic script and Irish and Celtic symbols. Usually though, the holiday is strongly associated with drinking into the night. Cabbage and bacon is the traditional food on this holiday, because it recalls the time in recent American-Irish St. Patricks Day history when that is the only food affordable to many immigrant families. Later on the corned beef was substituted for the bacon. In the 1970's the Irish in America took the opportunity to champion the cause of Irish violence in Northern Ireland. President Carter was instrumental in helping to negotiate a peace treaty in 1998 in which both Protestants and Catholics would share rule together for the first time in the Irish Republic. In this way the festival became somewhat of a political celebration as well.
The history of St Patricks Day has evolved from the aspirations of a young Scottish lad captured and whisked away to Ireland, to full-blown celebrations of him in modern times. The Irish holiday is as interesting as it is colorful, and will continue to be celebrated for as long as people love to celebrate holidays.