Love is in the air
Valentine’s Day (Sunday 14th February) is a beautiful occasion celebrating love and romance.
All of us want to treat our loved ones on this day, whether it’s the traditional gifts of chocolates and flowers, a candlelit dinner or something a little different…
While many of us are aware of the sentiment and emotions associated with Valentine’s Day, the history and traditions of this most romantic occasion are perhaps less-known, and the story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery.
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl - possibly his jailor’s daughter - who visited him during his confinement.
While the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and - most importantly - romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that 14th February was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.
Today, 14th February is more popular than ever and a key date on the calendar for lovers around the world.
Whatever your plans for Valentine’s Day, be sure to shop locally and support great local businesses on the doorstep, all of which offer plenty of opportunities to find unique gifts and experiences for your loved one.
And ladies - don’t forget, as 2016 is a leap year, 29th February is the traditional day when you can pop the question!