Valentine’s Day, Rome and the Pagan Feast of Lupercalia
Rome and Saint Valentine
It’s unclear if the Catholic chronicle of another martyr named Valentine of Rome, in the 5th century, was a different version of the original account referring to the same person. Legend has it, that while in jail Valentine cured the blind daughter of his jailer by laying hands on her, thus converting her and her family to Christianity. On the eve of his death, Valentine wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter. In the note, he urged her to stay close to God and he signed it, “From Your Valentine”.
Pope Gelasius and the Pagan Feast of Lupercalia
Capitoline Wolf – Lupa Capitolina – Bronze sculpture, 5th century BC, the twins Remus and Romulus were added during the Renaissance – Rome, musei capitolini
The Duke of Orléans
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
– excerpt from Fairwell to Love by Charles, Duke of Orleans
His words reflect the arcane tradition of arranged marriages and child brides that was prevalent during the Middle Ages. In more recent years, arranged marriage was used in the English monarchy with the union of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Unfortunately, Bonne died whilst Charles was still in captivity leaving the couple childless.
Surprisingly, Bonne was his second wife and only 11 years old when she married the 16-year-old Duke. Prior to his marriage to Bonne, at the age of 12, he married Isabella of Valois. Isabella was not only his 17-year-old cousin and daughter of Charles VI, King of France, but also the widow of King Richard II of England. Sadly, Isabella died whilst giving birth to her first child, Joan of Valois. Coincidentally, a few years later, Henry V of England commissioned author John Lydgate to compose a valentine note for his future wife, Catherine of Valois, the younger sister of the late Isabella of Valois.
Valentine’s Day Around the World
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, France, Australia and the UK. Great Britain saw Valentine’s Day begin to be popular around the 17th century and by the middle of the 18th century exchanging small gifts or handwritten notes was the norm. Surprisingly, in 1653, the English puritanical leader Oliver Cromwell banned St. Valentine’s Day customs when he became Lord Protector of the Realm. The Stuart King Charles II reinstated Valentine’s Day once he was restored to the English throne in 1660. By the beginning of the 20th century written letters were being replaced by printed cards thanks to the improvements in printing. Americans were exchanging handmade valentines in the early 18th century with mass-produced valentines being first introduced around the middle of the 19th century. The tradition continues with an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards sent each year.
Here are a few strange and interesting facts associated with Valentine’s Day and February 14th:
♥ Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14.
♥ It’s estimated that 19.7 billion dollars was spent by Americans on Valentine’s Day in 2016. Which is up from the 18.9 billion in 2015 and 6 billion more than 10 years ago when Americans spent 13.7 billion.
♥ 4.5 billion dollars was spent on jewelry during Valentine’s Day 2016 and over 1 billion was spent on greeting cards.
♥ Valentine candy conversation hearts have a shelf life of five years.
♥ Over 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado each year to get a special heart shaped stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day.
♥ In 1969, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Roman Calendar of Saints by Pope Paul VI, though its religious observance is still allowed.
♥ Madame Royale, daughter of Henry IV of France named her palace “The Valentine” because she loved Valentine’s Day so much.
As you can tell, Valentine’s Day has seen its share of changes over the past 2 decades. While slapping your woman with bloody goat skin may not be your wisest choice this Valentine’s Day, repairing your love’s computer will. Give the technicians at SurePoint IT a call at (706) 969-8895 and mention the Valentine’s Day code above or bring us the coupon to receive your $10 discount. We look forward to helping make this Valentine’s Day memorable, in a good way, and maybe leaving out the five-year-old candy heart’s is a good idea too!