February 14 is celebrated throughout the world as Valentine's Day/lover’s day. Traditionally, most love-struck people communicate their secret love through love notes, poems, flowers, cards etc on this day.
Legend also cites that valentine fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. Before his death, he is supposed to have written her a note and signed it off with the immortal phrase ¡¥Love From your Valentine¡¦. This note set off the custom of exchanging love notes on February 14.
In 496 A.D. the then Pope Gelasius wanted to do away with the Pagan celebration of Lupercalia so he declared February 14th as St. Valentine's Day who became popular as the patron saint of love. Though the pope did away with the practice of lottery for women, the February 14th celebrations continued as lover’s holiday and the day was used by young men to convey their secret love.
Though the celebrations have changed through the ages, the idea of combining the pagan and Christian traditions of celebrating love was here to stay.
Later on, in the middle Ages, many people believed that February 14 was the day that marked the beginning of the birds' mating season, this further added to the thought that Valentine's Day would be an apt day for romance.
The first ever valentine card was created by a young Frenchman, Charles, who was the Duke of Orleans in 1415. He was imprisoned after the Battle of Agincourt in the Tower of London and wrote romantic verses, poems or rhymed love letters to his beloved wife.
It became a common practice among friends and lovers to exchange gifts or handwritten notes in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Soon the handwritten letters were replaced by printed cards. These printed cards were an effortless way for people to convey their passion. With decreasing postage rates sending Valentine's Day greetings became increasingly popular. The credit of selling mass produced cards in America goes to Esther A. Howland in the 1840s.
Today, close to a billion cards are sent out every year. Valentine's Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas.
Heart: In ancient times, many people believed that the heart was the source of all emotions. So when you talk about giving your heart to someone, it meant that you are completely giving away everything to him/her. Thus, a heart became one of the popular symbols to convey the feeling of love. Later, heart pierced by the cupid’s arrow became a favorite valentine symbol.
Some of the other valentine symbols are:
Cupid: Cupid, the chubby mischievous winged boy, was the son of the Roman Goddess of Love- Venus. According to myths, Cupid’s love arrows would pierce the heart of his young men and women. This arrow would cause them to fall deeply in love with the first person they meet. He features in most of the valentine cards.
Roses: Roses are indisputably the most popular flowers among lovers around the world when it comes to conveying emotions of love. They were supposedly the favorite flowers of Venus who is the Roman goddess of love. Red rose is the hot favorite of lovers because it conveys love and passion.
Ribbons, Lace and Frills: These have long been used to represent romance; Knights would present lace and other finery to their ladylove before riding to battle, while the fair maiden would in turn present him with a ribbon or scarf to remember her by.
Love knots: Love knots have a sequence of zigzag and intertwining loops with no beginning or end. They are supposed to symbolize everlasting love, and are made from ribbon or drawn on paper.
Lovebirds/ Turtle Doves: It is an ancient belief that birds found their mates on this romantic day, so people felt that birds made great gifts on this day. Lovebirds are colorful little birds that sit closely together in pairs - as sweethearts do. And it is commonly believed that these birds cannot live without their mates. Doves are symbols of fidelity and love, because they mate and pair up for life.
Wooden Spoons: Wooden love spoons were given as gifts on lover’s day with engraved images of hearts, keys, and keyholes. They were considered a symbol that conveyed the thought, ¡§you unlock my heart! ¨
"X" sign: The "X" sign represents a kiss. This tradition has its origins in the practice during the medieval ages, wherein illiterate people would sign documents with an X sign and kiss on it to show that they are sincere, before a witness. Some people however feel that the X sign has a religious connotation. It has been employed in church history to symbolize Christ.
The most popular valentine gifts are:
» Red Roses
» Box of chocolates
» Cuddly Toys
» Heart shaped balloons
» Gift Certificate
» A romantic day out
» Spending Time together