Holiday of Love – Part 3 – Final
The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in the Lupercalia feasts. Instead of having a lottery of available maidens for the young men, they chose to substitute the names of saints for those of maidens. During this lottery of Saints, someone would pull the name of a saint from a box and for the following year they would study and attempt to emulate that saint.
By the year 1400, Valentine’s Day was celebrated all over Europe. Although a religious holiday it was also a holiday of love.
In Denmark, men sent white flowers called snowdrops to their sweethearts. In England people were very friendly and greeted their family and friends with “It’s Valentine’s Day”. Whoever said this greeting first got a present from the other person.
In France and England during medieval times, people also believed that at the start of the second week of the second month (Feb 14th), the birds found partners and began to mate.
Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens.
During the medieval days of chivalry, the single’s lottery was very popular. The names of English maidens and bachelors were put into a box and drawn out in pairs. The couple exchanged gifts and the girl became the man’s valentine for a year. He wore her name on his sleeve and it was his bounded duty to attend and protect her. The ancient custom of drawing names on the 14th of February was considered a good omen for love.
Be My Valentine
When the English came to America, Valentine’s Day celebrations followed.
There are many legends of St. Valentine and who sent the first Valentine. We do know by the year 1600 many people were sending Valentines.
Valentine’s Day has changed over the years. In the 1830’s valentines were made of silver or shells or lace. By 1860, the valentines made fun of people and were called “penny dreadfuls”. They cost one penny and were dreadful.
Around 1910, valentines became loving again and often included poems and decorations. Red hearts are used most often as they stand for love since ancient times. Roses are called the flower of love and this probably goes back to St. Valentine. Violets also stand for love.
Ladies in the past gave ribbons to their favourite knights. The knights would carry these ribbons when they went to war.
Lace comes from the Latin word “to catch”. Lace was supposed to catch the heart of a loved one.
Cupid was the Roman god of love. He carried bows and arrows and used them to shoot love into people’s hearts.
Reliquaries of St. Valentine
The Carmelite Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin claims to possess the relics of St. Valentine since 1835.
There is also a shrine to St. Valentine at Garbals area of Glasgow in Scotland.
The friars of St. Francis’ Church claim that St. Valentine remains have been kept there in a wooden casket since 1868. They were handed over by the owner of religious memorabilia.
Saint Valentine is the Patron Saint of Lovers and Engaged Couples, with particular jurisdiction over the quarrels, which arise between sweethearts. The patronage of Saint Valentine also extends to epilepsy (from which he is believed to have suffered), bee-keepers, plague, greetings, travellers and young people.
But the real message of St. Valentine’s Day is that martyrdom is the highest form of love.
Each heart in Camelot doth send blessings on this day of love to you dear Knights.
Your humble Scribe,
Knights of the Pain Table
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love. ~ Sophocles
Read Part 1