A Celebration of Love!
This blog is usually dedicated to interviewing romance authors, but this week, I hope you'll not mind that I'm digressing to talk about February 14th - Valentine's Day.
A few of my readers sent me messages asking how I'd celebrated Valentine's Day and I'm sure they expected that as an author of romance books, I would cherish the day and have received flowers and chocolates from my husband of almost 26 years. Well, I didn't. Was I disappointed? Not at all.
Although sometimes we've written each other cards for Valentine's Day and I have given and received chocolates, as well as having received flowers, neither of us really buy into the commercialism and I have to tell you it's the flowers or chocolates or loving actions I receive 'out of the blue' that mean even more to me than sentiments on Valentine's Day. So, we wished each other a Happy Valentine's Day, told each other how much we love each other and then my husband took me "out to dinner"... LOL...that is we went to the community soup kitchen where we regularly volunteer on a Thursday evening, and we did our usual thing and served a two-course meal to the homeless or those people in our community who are in need; then proceeded to wash and dry dishes! It's probably about as far-removed as you can think of from a 'romantic' evening, but I love that we're so on the same wavelength we both do this together (and that all three of the kids join in when they can.)
(Image Attribution: By Cicero Moraes - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63640962)
The origins of Valentine's Day...
Valentine's Day was originally a religious festival in honour of one of the many saints named Valentine (most likely St. Valentine of Rome). There are a few legends around the origins of Valentine's Day, but the one I like best is that Valentine was a priest in third century Rome who married lovers secretly because Emperor Claudius II had outlawed young men marrying so they could focus better on their soldiering for the Roman Empire.
The legend says Valentine was caught, sent to prison, then fell in love with his jailor's daughter who visited him and sent her a love letter before his death that he signed "From Your Valentine".
Pope Gelasius was supposed to have selected mid February as the day to celebrate the life of the empathetic Valentine and the date of February 14th was probably to "Christianize" the pagan fertility festival known as Lupercalia.
The earliest known Valentine's message still in existence was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans (pictured to the right) following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt and while he was in prison in the Tower of London. It's also said that writer, John Lydgate was hired to write a valentine note to Catherine of Valois on behalf of King Henry V (I was particularly interested to learn about Henry V as he makes appearances in my medieval romance titles "Knight of Her Heart" and "Knight of Her Dreams" that I write as Alyssa James!!)
By the 17th century, Valentine's Day had become a popular celebration in some countries. Funny to think that I always thought people in the USA celebrated this date with chocolates, flowers and gifts exchanged between lovers and that the custom had spread to other parts of the world, but I've discovered the tradition moved from the UK to the USA!
In the 1840s, Esther A Howard began selling the first mass produced valentines cards in the USA. In 1868, Cadbury produced the "Fancy Boxes" for sale for Valentine's Day - heart shaped, decorated boxes filled with chocolates.
Now, despite thinking that Valentine's Day is over-commercialised, I think it's great that we have one day set aside that serves as a prompt for us to think about our loves, because life certainly gets hectic and relationships should never be taken for granted. What I think is a little sad is that the day is banned in some countries because of it's origins in Christianity, or because it's seen as being too much westernised kitsch. Love is so important in our world, I think it's worth celebrating in every language - not because of any religious base but just because we're all humans and it's wonderful to love.
In my research I found out that in Finland February 14th marks a "Friends Day"; in Latin America there's the "Dia del Armor y la Amistad" (Day of Love and Friendship"; that in Norfolk Jack Valentine leaves presents on the doorstep for the kids; and that in South Korea on the 14th February women give men chocolate and on the 14th of March, men give women chocolate.
Last time I checked, this blog had subscribers from 84 different countries. I would so love to hear from you all (including my newest two subscribers from Belarus!) I would love it if you'd leave a comment and say which country you are from and whether or not you celebrate the 14th of February in any special way. Please don't be shy, it would be so great to connect! (If you have trouble leaving a comment on the blog, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
I hope you have enjoyed this change in blog direction today. Next Saturday, I'll get back on track interviewing guest authors and Ella Quinn will join me to answer five quick questions!
Enjoy your week! I wish you all Happy Reading, and hope that you find wonderful lasting love, happy times with families and many special and enduring friendships every day of the year!