I like to think of Valentines day as a day, not necessarily for couples, but for any expression of love. Love for friends, pets, art, music, a celebration of the emotion love. Why should those who are single be alienated on a day that celebrates love, that’s not showing love! Perhaps most importantly, on today of all days, we can recognise that we should love ourselves! We should also recognise that, although this is a day designated for the celebration of love, love should be a constant in our lives. There are 364 other days in a year when love should be in our thoughts and our deeds. Let’s not forget that!
So what about the day itself? February 14, Valentine’s Day, a day, when all around the world, gifts are given and received by loved ones in the name of St. Valentine. But who was he and why all the associated traditions? The truth is actually a mystery. February has been celebrated as a month of romance for a long time but St. Valentine’s Day is a hotch-potch of Pagan, Christian and Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and why him? Within the Catholic Church there are at least three different saints named Valentine, all were martyred. Some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death around A.D. 270 others believe that the Christian church decided to put St. Valentine’s day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on February 15. Lupercalia survived the rise of Christianity and but was outlawed as “un-Christian” at the end of the 5th century. It wasn’t until much later that the day became associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
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.
In England, Valentine’s Day became popular in the 17th century. By the 18th century it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.
Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, the first mass-produced valentines were sold. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colourful pictures. Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
Facts about Valentines Day.
In addition to the U.S., Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy and Japan.
Over 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days before the day, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight.
Research reveals that more than half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card.
There are 119 single men, who are in their 20s, for every 100 single women of the same ages.
There were 904 dating service establishments in the U.S. in 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenues.
2.2 million marriages take place in the United States annually. That’s more than 6,000 a day.
57% and 60% of American women and men, respectively, over age 15, are married.
70% of men and women ages 30 to 34 in 2008 had been married at some point in their lives.
4.9 million opposite-sex cohabitating couples maintained households in 2005. These couples comprised 4.3 percent of all households.
1,241: The number of locations producing chocolate and cocoa products in 2004. These establishments employed 43,322 people.
The total value of shipments in 2004 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products was $13.9 billion.
The combined wholesale value of U.S. produced cut flowers in 2005 was $397 million.
The combined wholesale value of U.S. produced cut roses in 2005 was $39 million. Among all types of cut flowers, roses were third in receipts ($39 million) to lilies ($76.9 million) and tulips ($39.1 million).
There were 21,667 florists in the U.S in 2004. These businesses employed 109,915 people.
There were 28,772 jewelry stores in the United States in 2004. In February 2006, these stores sold $2.6 billion worth of merchandise. In the U.S.the manufacture of jewelry was an $9 billion industry in 2004.
Writers have been trying to capture love in words for thousands of years. Check out this collection of quotes about love from some of the world’s most famous romantics, from Shakespeare, who wrote 154 sonnets dealing with love, time, beauty and mortality, to famed Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda.
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.– Aristotle
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.– Lao Tzu
My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
Love does not dominate; it cultivates.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.– Zora Neale Hurston
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.– Leo Tolstoy
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.– Pablo Neruda, “Love Sonnet XVII”
With many thanks to: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day
Love in Art etc.
Everyone has heard of Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ but I prefer his sculpture Eternal Springtime.