Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. For many people this means it is a day of flowers, chocolates and greetings cards slushy, humorous or both. We may think this is a recent invention like Fathers’ Day, but that’s far from true. Valentine’s Day dates back many centuries and has its origins in 3rd Century Rome.

St Valentine is thought to have been a priest who conducted marriages against the wishes of the Emperor Claudius who believed married men made poor soldiers.  When Claudius found out he sentenced Valentine to death, but even while languishing in gaol Valentine fell in love with the gaoler’s daughter. He wrote her a letter on the day of his execution, February 14th, signed ‘from your Valentine’.

Valentine’s Day celebrations originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia during which boys picked the names of girls from a box. The chosen would become their girlfriend for the festival. If they got on, they would get married. Later the church adopted Lupercalia as a Christian event in which St Valentine would be commemorated. In the Middle Ages they believed that February 14th was the start of the mating season for birds.

The first known Valentine’s Day message dates from 1415, a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife when he was incarcerated in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt.

Valentine’s Day is now an annual love-fest welcomed and enjoyed by millions. It’s a day of flowers, chocolates, romantic meals and intrigue – tradition has it that cards should be sent anonymously and some people go to enormous lengths to disguise the sender’s identity. Sometimes messages are serious, sometimes just a bit of fun. And maybe that’s the point. Enjoy it, but don’t take it too seriously. It’s the froth on the coffee, not the coffee itself!

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