As a wedding planner of beautiful events and celebrations, I am always interested in finding out more details about why we do things and where they originate from so I have delved into the history of the day of LOVE to tell you more…….
Who is St Valentine?
There is no real clear answer to this, but some stories suggest he was a priest in Roman times and when the Emperor decided that single men made better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for all the young men. Valentine felt this was complete injustice and carried on marrying them in secret, however, when the emperor discovered this, valentine was put to his death.
Other stories suggest that he was killed for helping Christians escape harsh roman prisons. Another legend has suggested that an imprisoned Valentine fell in love with the jailors daughter who used to visit him, and he wrote her a letter signed ‘from your valentine’ So quite the romantic figure in any case!
The valentine’s greeting can be traced back to the 1400’s. In records dating back to 1415, Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote one to his wife after being captures and imprisoned in the Tower of London, it’s the oldest example in existence.
In Britain Valentine’s day became popular in the 17th Century and in the 18th it was common practise to send a small token or note to a loved one. In the early 1900’s cards would replace the notes and they were adorned with real lace and fancy ribbon. It is the second most popular celebration to send a card, the first being Christmas.
In 1835, 60,000 Valentine’s day cards were sent by post in Britain, despite postage being expensive at this time. With Sir Rowland Hill’s postal reforms and the invention of the postage stamp in 1940 (the first one being a penny black) this bought about a reduction of rates and saw 400,000 cards being sent just a year after it was invented. This also made it possible to send them anonymously which then saw a rise in racy verse in the very prim Victorian era.
In 1868 Cadbury created ‘Fancy Boxes’ a decorated box of chocolates in the shape of a heart, this then became the tradition as well as other gifts such as jewellery.
Twelve Red Roses
The language of flowers, which came about in the Victorian era, suggests that the red rose symbolises Love. There are different theories for the number twelve as it also appears in religion and mythology, it could be the hours in a day, or indeed the months in a year. I like to think it symbolises something along those lines so it’s giving a message to receiver, ‘I love you today and always’ Of course nowadays they don’t always have to be red, I think it depends on what your beloved prefers!
The Valentine’s Proposal
I was really surprised when researching the topic that Valentine’s Day equates for 50% of wedding proposals (in the US) Sure, it’s a romantic day, full of love but is it not a little predictable?! Its either really clichéd or super romantic……I just can’t decide which!
If you have ever proposed or been proposed to on Valentine’s Day, please do comment and let me know your thoughts.