The origin of this medieval holiday might just surprise you.
As February 14th draws nearer, people all over the world are scrambling to choose a meaningful token of their love and affection to give to their partner. Chocolates, jewellery, flowers and a romantic meal are all common Valentine’s Day traditions, but why is it that we exchange presents on this day in the first place?
The ancient history of Valentine’s Day
The historical origins of Valentine’s Day are fascinating, as this holiday is thought to incorporate both early Christian and ancient Roman traditions. Interestingly, the Catholic Church recognises three different saints all named Valentine, each of them young men who were martyred for their faith.
With that said, the most commonly cited is a third century Roman saint. Little is known about his personal life or the circumstances surrounding his martyrdom, but since his feast day was declared by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, it has been associated with courtly love, birds and flowers. Most scholars believe that this was an attempt to recast the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia as a properly Christian holiday devoid of its heretic roots while still maintaining some of its original meaning.
Early cards and tokens
Valentine’s Day greetings have been recorded as far back as the middle ages, but cards do not begin to appear in the historical record until 1400. The oldest known Valentine in existence is a 1415 poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, now in the British Library’s collection.
The holiday rapidly picked up in popularity by the mid 1700s – people across England, Europe (and the colonies that would later become the U.S.) began to exchange small gifts and tokens of love on February 14th. In 1840 a woman named Esther A. Howland changed Valentine’s Day forever by mass- producing printed cards festooned with lace, hearts and ribbons.
By the early twentieth century, lower postage rates made exchanging Valentine’s Day cards by post possible for the average person, and more and more card companies got into the lucrative business of all things February 14th. Today, this is a widely celebrated holiday around the world that captures the hearts of lovers young and old.
Personalised gifts of love and affection
From these humble historical origins emerged the romantic annual holiday that we look forward to each year. The cherished gifts of jewellery, chocolates and flowers are simply just the modern day equivalents of medieval love poems and Esther Howland’s beautiful printed cards.
One of the most important aspects of a meaningful Valentine’s Day gift is the personal and intimate nature of the item being given. Oh So Cherished is a unique British company that specialises in creating bespoke gifts that truly communicate just how much you care for your partner.
From a wide array of lovely necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets to a breathtaking collection of stationery, books and key rings, the thoughtful Valentine’s Day gifts available from Oh SoCherished will help you to celebrate this ancient holiday with style, love and most importantly – with romance.
Image: Oh So Cherished 'Love You To Pieces' Necklace - £39.99
Contributed By: Jessica
Contributed By: Jessica