Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. Every February 14, across Canada and other parts of the world, flowers, candy and gifts are
exchanged between those we love. We do this all in the name of St. Valentine. Now you’re probably wondering, is Saint Valentine a legend or a true historical figure? That is the question that people have been asking for hundreds of years. If you’re one of those people, then you’re in luck, because it is time to brush up on your Valentine’s history!
There are a few different legends surrounding the celebration of Valentine’s Day, one of the most popular is about a priest, Father Valentine, who served during 3rd century Rome. Legend has it that during this time, there was an Emperor who ruled Rome named Claudius II. Now, this dude decided that single men made better soldiers than those who were married and outlawed marriage for all young men serving in his army.
Apparently, Valentine decided that this was an injustice and chose to marry youngsters who were secretly in love. Upon finding this out, the furious Emperor had Valentine imprisoned and later put to death. Some stories say that the young couples, who Valentine Married, gave flowers and letters to him when they visited him in prison. Furthermore, while he was jailed awaiting execution, the legend was born that he performed a miracle by curing the blindness of Julia, the daughter of his jailer. Valentine’s death was in the middle of February, which is why some believe we now celebrate on February 14.
So, why the hearts and love during Valentine’s Day? Father Valentine made it his dying wish to remind the soldier’s of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians and spread love always. It is said that Valentine cut hearts from parchment and gave them to the soldiers. This is probably the origin of the modern tradition of hearts representing love, and especially Valentine’s Day cards and gifts.
Further folklore surrounding Saint Valentine has it that on the evening before Valentine was executed, he wrote the very first Valentine’s card himself, gave it to Julia and signed, “Your Valentine”. Relating back to present day, this expression is something that we now use today when sending an anonymous card.
Another iconic Valentine’s Day figure that you may be wondering about is Cupid. In Roman Mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart, in Greek Mythology is Eros, God of Love. Cupid is often said to be a mischievous boy who goes around wounding both gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love.
Cupid is perhaps the most famous symbol of Valentine’s Day. Everyone knows him as a little mischievous, winged boy armed with a bow and arrows. The arrows signify desires and emotions of love. Apparently, Cupid aims and launches those arrows at Gods and humans, causing them to fall madly in love. Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. In ancient Greece, he is known as Eros, the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
Now, here is the kicker, there is a very interesting story behind Cupid and his mortal bride, Psyche in Roman mythology. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche and ordered Cupid to punish her. Instead, what ended up ultimately happening, was Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He took her as his wife, but as a mortal, she was forbidden to look at him. Today, Cupid and his arrows have become the most popular signs of love, and love is most frequently depicted by two hearts pierced by an arrow, Cupid’s arrow.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the
Today, of course, celebrations of Valentine’s Day around the world, has become a huge commercial activity, worth literally billions of dollars world-wide, especially for the greeting card industry and for florists and garden centres. Because of this Valentine’s Day has been coined a “Hallmark Holiday”. Valentine’s Day is celebrated not only in Canada, but also in America, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. It became common in Great Britain to exchange small tokens of affection and handwritten notes by the middle of the 18th Century. In the early 1700’s, Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines and it eventually caught on around the world.
So Badgers, spread the love this Valentine’s Day; you don’t need to buy goodies and give into the Hallmark Holiday, but be sure to hug your loved ones and tell them how much they are appreciated.