How did St. Valentine become associated with love and romance?
Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?
The history of Valentine’s Day (and the story of its patron saint) is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl (possibly his jailor’s daughter) who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
Another theory is that Valentine’s Day was a way to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Maybe the Christian church placed St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February to coincide with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia? Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
While Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity, it was outlawed (as it was deemed “un-Christian”) at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
On that historical note, we included a few ideas for your Valentine below. We do have a selection of men’s jewelry as well. Visit Mrs. Jones & Co. to see the whole collection. ALL of the gold items below are under $850.00 and some are even accented with diamonds. ALL of these items are BEST SELLERS!
P.S. What you are hoping for this Valentine’s Day?
This has always been one of our best sellers, it comes in three colors, yellow, rose and white gold. A locket is a wonderful keepsake to mark any special occasion. Take a look at it here.
Hoop earrings are a timeless classic. These are beautiful on. They come in yellow and white gold. Take a look at them here.
We love this 14 karat yellow gold diamond leaf pendant which come in TWO colors, yellow and white gold. The textured finish and diamond accent is so fresh and unique. It becomes a beautiful focal point that dresses up any outfit. This is a special piece. Take a look at it here.
These are simply spectacular because they are so different. This pair of 14 karat yellow gold rutilated quartz and diamond drop earrings, (with a matte finish) works from day to evening. Stunning. Take a look at them here.
Another one of our best sellers. Our 14 karat gold, vertical bar diamond necklace that comes in TWO colors, yellow and white gold. Take a look at it here.
Remember what your Grandmother and the scounts always say, “Be Prepared!”