One of my fondest memories is as a mere 5 year old and receiving my very first Valentine’s card. No, it was not from my Dad but from my best buddy – we were inseparable. Playing on the swings, learning how to master our skateboards and even testing his ‘Stretch Armstrong Stretch’ doll to it’s limitations – oops!
At this young age, I did not know exactly what Valentine’s Day was all about – only that the stores were decorated in red hearts and there was a chubby little fellow called Cupid depicted on a wide range of cards.
When my friend ‘secretly’ gave me his Valentine’s Day card, with ‘I Love You’ written in pre-school scrawl and a hand-drawn heart inside, I felt on top of the world. I felt super special and was the envy of all my kindergarten girlfriends. I still have that first Valentine’s Day card, some 45+ years later and when I reminisce back to the day I received it, it still makes me smile. Although I have received other Valentine’s Day cards over the years since, my first will always have a special place in my heart.
What is the legend of Valentine’s Day?
History tells us that back in the 3rd century AD, St Valentine (a Roman priest) was arrested and imprisoned after secretly marrying Christian couples who were being persecuted by Emperor Claudius II – helping Christians at the time was considered a serious crime. While in prison, St Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter and on his execution day (the 14th February), he wrote and sent her a love letter, signed ‘from your Valentine’ as his final goodbye.
Nearly 500 years later in 496AD, the feast of St Valentine was first recognised and celebrated by Pope Gelasius. He included St Valentine within the people “… whose names are just reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.”
Why is the heart associated with love?
The heart has long been associated with knowledge and feelings. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was where our memories resided, as well as our emotions.
The Ancient Greeks also believed that the heart was in control of reason, thought and emotion. In the Middle Ages, the heart began to appear in Christian art and literature as a symbol of Jesus Christ and his love. By the 1600s, the heart was naturally adopted as the official symbol of Valentine’s Day and it continues to be in modern times.
Why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
The day first became associated with romantic love as early as the 14th century within courtier circles. By the 18th century, the occasion was well established and people began to send each other flowers, confectionary and greetings cards known as ‘valentines’.
It is now one of the most widely celebrated annual occasions. From humble beginnings as a goodbye letter to a lover, nowadays millions of Valentine’s Day cards are sent all over the world on 14th February.
There are many mantras that can help keep us feel loved and supported; and many to remind us to choose love above all else. May we all be surrounded by love – always.