Saint Valentine’s Day or simply Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love that is observed on the 14th of February.
Someone who you present with a token of your love is known as your valentine as is the token itself. At first this love was mainly defined as being between two people who had romantic feelings for each other. In modern times it has been replaced with any type of love between two people, be it between 2 friends or children and their parents.
There are various stories of how this day came to be celebrated this way. The most repeated story comes from the time of Emperor Claudius II during the 3rd century AD. The emperor believed that single men made better soldiers than men with families. So he created a law that prevented young men from getting married. Valentine, who was a Christian priest during this time, disobeyed this law by performing secret wedding ceremonies. When the emperor found out, Valentine was jailed and executed. Part of the legend says that Valentine cured Claudius’ daughter while in prison and sent her a letter signed ‘from your Valentine’, which people use to sign Valentine’s day cards today.
Historians have not been able to prove the story of Valentine and Claudius and some suggest that modern Valentine’s day is actually a Christian version of the pagan ritual called Lupercalia. This was a fertility festival dedicated to both Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture as well as Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. When Christianity became the religion of the empire, 14th of February was established as Valentine’s day by Pope Gelasius in the 5th century AD. Although there is no evidence of the link between St. Valentine and romantic love, this day remains a time of celebration for all the loving relations in one’s life.
On Valentines day people present each other with a token representing their affection. The most common Valentine exchange is a greeting card with a personal note inside. Other presents can be a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. The heart shape is a common symbol in all Valentine’s day symbols. The 14th of February is the second most important day for exchanging cards, after Christmas.
Cupid is the Roman god of desire and affection. Can you find out how he is portrayed in art in terms of looks and objects he carries with him at all time? What do these objects signify?
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