Lupercalia was bloody, ancient pagan festival held each year in Rome on February 15 in the 6th century BC. Many historians believe Valentine’s Day originated from Lupercalia.
It was a bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration, during which Roman priests would sacrifice goats and dogs and use their blood-soaked skins to slap women on the streets, as a “fertility blessing”. According to legend, women would later put their names in an urn and be selected to be paired with a man for a year.
Late in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I eliminated Lupercalia and declared February 14 a day to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine instead. It’s highly unlikely he intended the day to commemorate love and passion, though. In fact, some modern biblical scholars warn Christians not to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all, because it’s thought to be based on pagan rituals.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began its popularity around 17th century.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.
When Emperor Claudius II decided that men who were single made better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When he was discovered, Claudius had Valentien beheaded.
Another legend tells that, during Valentine’s imprisonment, he tutored a girl named Julia, who was the blind daughter of his jailer. In this story, God restored Julia’s sight after she and Valentine prayed together. On the eve of his execution, Valentine supposedly penned a note to Julia and signed it, “From your Valentine”.
The Catholic Church declared Valentine a saint and listed him in “Roman Martyrology” as being martyred on February 14.
Thanks to Saint Valentine’s reputation as a “patron of lovers”, he became synonymous with romance.
Here are some interesting Valentine’s Day traditions and curious facts:
Letters to “Juliet”
Every year, thousands of romantics send letters to Verona, Italy, addressed to “Juliet”, “the heroine from William Shakespeare’s timeless romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet”
Boxes of chocolates as Valentine’s Day gifts
This tradition was started in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury, a scion of a British chocolate-manufacturing family.
The first valentine was written from a prison
History’s first valentine was written in perhaps one of the most unromantic places conceivable. At the age of 21, Charles, Duke of Orleans, wrote a love letter to his second wife from prison, after having been captured in the Battle of Agincourt.
“Wearing your heart on your sleeve”
The term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” may have originated from picking a valentine. The Smithsonian institution reports that during the Middle Ages, men would write the names of the women who they would like to be couples with while attending that year’s Roman festival honouring Juno. After choosing, the men wore the names of their sleeves to show their bond during the festivities.
“Vinegar valentines” discouraged suitors
During the Victorian Era, those who didn’t want the attention of certain suitors would anonymously send “vinegar valentines.” These cards, also called “penny dreadfuls,” were the antithesis of customary valentines, comically insulting and rejecting unwanted admires. They were later used to target suffragettes in the late 19th and early 20th century. (Suffragettes were women activists in the early 20th century who, under the banner “Votes for Women,” fought for the right to vote in public election.)
“Sweethearts” candies started out as lozenges
According to the Food Business News, pharmacist and inventor Oliver Chase built a machine to cut lozenges from wafer candy, later known as Necco Wafers.
Cupid was a Greek god
The chubby baby with wings and bow and arrow that we call Cupid has been associated with Valentine’s Day for centuries. However, before he was renamed Cupid, he was known to the ancient Greeks as Eros, the god of love.
How “X” came to mean “kiss”
The idea of using a kiss to sign valentines has a long history, according to the Washington Post. The use of “x” came to represent Christianity, or the cross, in the Middle Ages. At the time, the symbol was also used to sign off on documents. After marking with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. As the gesture grew among kins and commoners to certify books, letters and paperwokd, these records were described as having been “sealed with a kiss”
By the mid-18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the year 1900, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expressions of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings
What is love?
There are so many interpretations of love, one could possibly write a book.
There’s a famous phrase that says, “God is simple, everything else is complex” (Paramahansa Yogananda). We, the human species, are complex creatures. For many of us, the word “love” means many different things. Psychological research over the past 50 years has investigated the differences between liking someone, loving someone and being “in love”.
I don’t even know: does true love exist? According to many spiritual advisors, there is such concept as “twin flames”. Twin flame is your own soul split in two bodies. “When a soul is created, it is split into two parts, mirrors of each other, constantly yearning to reconnect.” Meeting your twin flame in this life-time is very rare, I am being told, and usually happens when both of you have cleared major karmic debris, and are able to meet finally, but the purpose of reunion is to work toward helping humanity ascending to higher consciousness. These unions are blessings to the Universe, they generate higher frequency energies being released to Cosmos. Being around the twin flames is like warming up next to camp fire in the woods.
Meeting your twin flame is like coming home, it is state of heaven, true partnership. This is attraction based in soul recognition, not based in physical attraction. I sensed that the Mary Magdalene and Jesus were true twin flames, she was also Jesus’s disciple and understood him the most, than anyone else in his circle. The first couple Adam and Eve are also an example of twin flames.
Plato, 2500 years ago wrote in Symposium:
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their halves.”-Plato, The Symposium
“And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment.” – Plato, The Symposium
“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” – Plato, The Symposium
For many of us, meeting our other halves in this lifetime is next to impossible. But we can create relationships with our soulmates, the group of souls that travel together with us, so we can grow and learn about love, and become better version of ourselves, so, perhaps when we are ready, we will meet our twin flame.
True Love Poem by Wislawa Szymborska
Polish writer Wislawa Szymborska in her pome True Love” discloses her thoughts about the real love in the first verses
True love. Is it normal
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?
Look at the happy couple.
Couldn’t they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends’ sake?
Listen to them laughing – it’s an insult.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn’t populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.
Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there’s no such thing.
You can read the entire poem here.
Szymborska, in my own opinion, mirrors our own doubt in search for true love, the one that will last a life-time, because the other person feels like home to us, but our mind is full of cynicism and doubt, we don’t want to be bothered, because it happens so rarely, there is no point to believe in it, perfect children are born without its help.
What are your own thoughts and experiences on this human journey to light? Do you believe in true love or is it a Hollywood concept, something that happens in literature and film, but not in a real life?