One thing is certain – every valentines day I get a teddy bear… even when I’ve said “Don’t get me another teddy!” to TOH, he still goes out and gets one.
This year I got this fella:
Don’t get me wrong – I adore teddy bears and Tatty Teddy is one of my particular favourites. It’s just that my collection is starting to take over almost every room in the house!
Valentines is an interesting holiday to look at. There are so many stories surrounding the origin of the holiday before the modern, consumer driven love fest. My favourite one comes from roman history:
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.
Another concerns the origin of the phrase “be my Valentine”:
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.
but the origins of the holiday go back further than that and aren’t quite as sickly sweet as you might think.
Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. T
hey 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.
Slightly more blood soaked than you might think but at least it isn’t too far removed from the holiday we celebrate. Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
Valentines cards as we know them didn’t really appear until 1900 when they were encouraged as a way of showing ones feelings in an era when direct expression of your feelings was frowned upon. Cheaper postal rates and reliable delivery added to the increase in popularity of ready made cards and an estimated 150 billion Valentine Cards are now sent, making it the second biggest card sending holiday behind Xmas.
There are other countries that celebrate valentines in different ways…
In Japan, Valentine’s Day is typically observed by girls and women presenting chocolate gifts (either store-bought or handmade), usually to boys or men, as an expression of love, courtesy, or social obligation. Handmade chocolate is usually preferred by the recipient because of the perception of sincerity, effort, and emotion put into a home-made confection.
A month later on March 14th, they celebrate White Day – when men are expected to return the favour and give gifts to the women who gave them chocolate – traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, jewellery, white chocolate, white lingerie, and marshmallows. There is an unwritten rule that the return White Day gift should be worth two to three times the cost of the original Valentines gift… sounds good to me!
The welsh celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (Welsh for St Dwynwen’s Day) in what most consider the equivalent of Valentines day, on 25th January.
Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.
Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him.
After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen.
Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry
Dwynwen became a nun, fulfilling her wish to never marry, and left for the island of Anglesey to build a Church. This is referred to as Llanddwynwen, literally meaning “Church of Dwynwen”.
However you celebrate it, however much you spend (in time or money) on your card and gift to your loved one, there is only one thing to remember:
When you pick a partner for life, love gifts can be given at any time.
Valentine’s day is just one day – you should show your love for your partner every day and through everything.
Whether it’s making them a cup of tea to warm them up after they’ve been out in the cold or snuggling up to them on the couch and watching a film with them. There are so many different ways to do it… find one every day.
What did I give TOH?
Well being the crafty person I am, I made the card and the present… He likes my Flapjacks, so I made him a heart shaped one!
I hope you have a wonderful Valentines day and that you feel loved all year round!