Monday, February 9, 2009

An Inspirational Valentine

There are many stories behind the origin of Valentine’s Day, but this story has always been the one that struck a chord with me. Maybe it’s because I can see the romance of it.

Late in the third century, around 270 A.D., the Roman Empire was in a downward spiral that it never quite recovered from. There were ever increasing threats from outside invaders, not to mention the lack of qualified men to serve in the government and the military. The reigning emperor, Claudius II, decided that single men were better suited than married men to serve in these capacities so he decided to ban marriage.

A local Christian bishop, Valentine, secretly continued to offer the sacrament of marriage to couples who desired to do so. When Claudius learned of this he had Valentine arrested and ordered him to convert to worshipping the pagan Roman gods.

Instead of converting, Valentine, displaying great dignity and valor, turned the tables on Claudius and attempted to convert him to Christianity even though the consequence could be his death. Claudius was unpersuaded and on the 24th of February he had Valentine executed.

While in prison, tradition has it that the jailer in charge asked Bishop Valentine to pray for his blind daughter to be healed. Through Valentine's prayers the daughter's sight was miraculously restored. Afterward Valentine penned a note to the daughter and signed it "from your Valentine."

Pulled from

While he didn’t have a Happy Ever After, he sure provided long-lasting inspiration for us all to strive for one.

I love Valentine’s Day. Granted we can and should be sharing our love and romance throughout the year, and many of us do - I love having a day where we can escape our hectic schedules and devote a few hours to romance.


A Bit of Trivia I came across: Valentine Traditions

Austria – an obscure tradition on the books is courtship where flowers are presented is associated with Valentine’s Day.

Australia – during the gold rush, those who found their fortune would send elaborate valentines made of satin cushions, scented and decorated with flowers, shells and stuffed humming bird or bird of paradise. They were elaborated packaged and sent.

Britain – when the day would come, magazines would publish sonnets and verses in honor of St Valentine.

Denmark – transparent cards are given, but when held up to the light it would show the lover giving his girl a gift. People would swap poems and snow candy and send each other silly and playful love notes with names signed in dots. If the receiver figures out who sent the note, the sender will receive an egg at Easter.

France – an outlawed custom was one where they’d enter a house and call out the window of the one the one they wanted for a mate. If the man didn’t like his mate, he’d desert her and the ladies would burn photos and what have in bonfires and name calling would ensue. Now cards are given.

Germany – the males of courting couples would give flowers, while married men would give their wives roses and chocolate, etc. Love notes, cards are given any day of the year.

Italy – no longer done is the gathering of couples in ornamental gardens to listen to poetry and music. Now they simply announce their engagement on Valentine’s Day. In Rome the day is known as Lupercalia, and is a day of love and romance.

Scotland – during a festival, singles would put their names in hats, male in one, female in another and names would be drawn. Sometimes this would result in marriages by the end of the dance or just the woman wearing their Valentine’s name on their sleeve. There is also a practice of when the first man or woman walks by you they will be your Valentine. Another tradition is to exchange gifts or rings.

Spain – it’s the custom for dating couples to exchange gifts while husbands send roses to their wives.


Daring to be different…
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Lindsay Townsend said...

Super blog, Bekki! I never knew all those customs - fascinating! And the historical side intrigues me a lot. Thank you so much!

Valentine is a name in my mother's family. My middle brother Stephen is called Stephen Valentine and his son is James Valentine.

What a super post to begin the count-down to Valentine's Day!!

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, it is a super post to begin a Valentine Week ~ wow, I didn't know about all those customs either.
I just adore the whole idea of Valentine's Day... sigh...

Bekki Lynn said...

Wow, Lindsay -- that is so cool to have the Valentine name in the family.

Is there a story behind it?

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Bekki, I don't know. I think it must have been a family name for some reason. My maternal grandfather was Valentine and his father was Valentine Rochfort.

Family names are always interesting, I think.

Looking forward to more Valentine- themed posts!

Bekki Lynn said...

So do I, Savanna.

Bekki Lynn said...

I found the done-away traditions of other countries story provoking. I think it would be interesting to see some these explored.

Savanna Kougar said...

Bekki, it would be fascinating to explore. Plus, I'd to incorporate some of those tradtions into otherworld stories.

Bekki Lynn said...

oh, please -- I'd love to see what you do with it.

I'd also like to see what Lindsay would in her historicals as well.

Goody B Fortnight said...

What a great blog Bekki! I adore the different customs you listed. Very cool...

Sarashifter said...

WHoopS!! My sister's google account was still signed in...the previous comment was me :)

Linda Banche said...

I never heard of some of these customs. But it's nice to know that Valentine's Day is celebrated in lots of places and in lots of ways.

Bekki Lynn said...

Thanks, Linda and Sara --

I love the differences and the similarities to the United States. I was also curious how many of the obscure ones were brought over.

I think many of them were, but we've turned them into party games and gift exchange customs such as families and companies drawing names of who to buy for.