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Valentine’s Day- The Historical Evolution of Love

Valentine’s day is synonymous with the exuberating feeling known as love. For most of us, love is an elixir of life, an emotion that offers us enormous strength and transports us to a different world where everything seems to be resplendent and gleeful. Valentine’s day celebrates the concept of love. Love is in the air and those who are in love are out on their streets with their significant other painting the city red with love on this day. We celebrate the day with the greatest fervor but the historical past of this day is shrouded in obscurity. On this day, couples exchange romantic gifts with each other in the name of St. Valentine but how many of us are aware of his association with this momentous occasion of love?

The tale of love which started with oppression

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There are various lores which talk of diverse origins but the most prominent tale dates back to the 3rd century. Though Valentine’s day is about love, romance and passion, the roots lie in oppression. The patron Saint named Valentine was beheaded because he wanted to break the shackles of despotism and spread called love. Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men stating that men who had a family and children were not fit to be good soldiers. Saint Valentine was vehemently against the decree, stood up for the reason he believed in and performed secret marriages of young soldiers. When Claudius, the despotic ruler discovered about Valentine’s activities, he ordered that he should be put to death without further delay. This is how Saint Valentine emerged as the martyr in the name of love.

However, there is another legend which says that Valentine was subjected to death for helping the Christians flee from the Roman prison where there were put through enormous and brutal torture. It is said that Valentine had fallen for the jailor’s blind daughter while being imprisoned. He immortalised his love for the young girl by sending her a love message signing  ‘from your Valentine’.  This happened on 14th February itself. The Roman catholic church heralded this day as the Saint Valentine’s day, the day when love must be celebrated.

Some others also believe that this was an attempt to Christianize Lupercalia, which was primarily a pagan festival. It was known to be a fertility festival celebrated during the ides of March dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus. This was outlawed by Christians as it involved anti-christian practices and established Valentine’s day during this time

How did the day get associated with love?

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Though Valentine’s Day had a murky origin, it was primarily about the triumph of love. Later, the day became associated with romance during the Middle Ages. The people living in France and England believed that the mating season of the birds start from February 14. This is primarily the reason it was known to be the day of love, romance and passion despite the dark origin of the pink-hearted day. Literature stalwarts like Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized the day in their writings while keeping the bloody connotative origins at bay. This is how the romantic association with the day gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Though there were different origins, a poem penned by medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer in 1381 established the connection between the St Valentine and the day of love.

The origin of the popular gifting traditions

Today, lovers exchange gifts on this day to express their depth of love. When it comes to Valentine gifting Click Here. The most common gifts include roses, greeting cards and chocolates. But there were certain traditions which popularised these gifting ideas.

Greeting cards

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Verbal greetings became popular with the passage of time but not the written ones. A poem written by Charles the Duke of Orleans to his wife from his prison cell while he was held as a captive in the Tower of London in 1415 after the Battle of Agincourt was the very first card of record. The French poem written by him was titled ‘Farewell to Love”. This. By the 16 th century, exchanging cards became highly popular. Especially, by the middle of the 18 th century, people of various social stratas started exchanging handwritten valentine notes. With the advent of printing technology, printed cards became more popular and today, it is the most popular form of showing your love to your valentine. In 1913, Hallmark, the American Company started distributing official Valentine Day cards”. Going by the data of the Greeting Card Association, 25 percent of cards are sent during the festival of Love- Valentine’s Day. These cards are designed with hearts to express and Cupid to symbolize love.

Flowers

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Flowers bring out the best out of emotions. Without a spoken word, flowers can depict all forms of love.  The tradition of giving flowers on Valentine’s Day started from the 17 th century. Red roses are the most commonly gifted flower on Valentine’s Day. A single stemmed rose could act as the strongest token of love and appreciation. It is also said that rose is the favourite flower of Venus, the Goddess of love. Giving a rose is considered a heartfelt and romantic gesture which helps one win the heart of your beloved gracefully.

Chocolates

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Giving chocolates is the best form of creating sweet memories in your relationship. Chocolates was introduced by the Spanish explorers to the new world way back in the 17th century. Because of its aphrodisiac qualities and sweetness, it came to be associated with love, romance and passion. Chocolates are gifts that can easily melt hearts and make unbreakable bonds. Therefore, it became a popular choice of Valentine gifting. A single rose has the same value as a dozen.

Today, Valentine’ Day is celebrated across the world in various ways. Gifting each other is an integral part of this day of love. Apart from giving flowers, chocolates , greeting cards, people also celebrate the romantic day in various ways like going out for romantic dinner, a dream date, long drive, buying expensive jewelry and surprising each other in the most unexpected ways. Valentine gifting ideas traditions have changed to a certain extent with the passage of time. But the one thing that remains constant is the love that calls out loud to be celebrated with splendour!

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