Hello, my dear friends!

Where did the time go? The holidays are behind us, and it is February already, the month that fills us with hope and wish for the early spring. And we have one very lovely holiday to celebrate in February: Valentine’s Day.

February 14th is a day to celebrate romance and love. But did you know that the origins of this festival of candy, flowers, and cupids are actually dark, and a bit muddled? Well, it is. And it all started with Romans.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain (!!)

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.

As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.

Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.

Well, after a bit of history, I want to wish all of you a very lovely and Happy Valentine’s Day. May this February 14th bring you love and romance, AND LOTS OF CHOCOLATE!

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