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What is the origin of Valentine's Day?

Whether we like it or not, the Valentine's Day is one of the most important festivals of the calendar and its origins always arouse curiosity. No less than seven Saints named Valentine share the honor of being celebrated on February 14 and of being the patron saint of lovers, but for the majority of historians, the true identity of Valentine's Day finds its origin in ancient Rome.

Father Valentin

It was on February 14, 269 that the Roman emperor Claudius II had arrested and executed the Father Valentinus which united in hiding young couples despite a law prohibiting soldiers from the empire from marrying. The purpose of this law was to deter men from staying with their families, thereby filling the ranks of the military legions. Valentinus died defender of marriage and love but Valentine's Day was not born.

Renaissance style painting showing Saint Valentine uniting a couple under the gaze of two cherub angels.

From pagan festival to Christian festival

Two centuries later, when Valentinus became a canonized martyr, Pope Gelasius I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Instead of completely abolishing a very popular pagan festival celebrated on February 1, he Christianized it by associating it a day earlier with Valentine, great protector of couples and love. The ancient festival of the Roman lupercales no longer corresponded to the beliefs of the Christian church since it venerated Lupercus, god protecting herds and shepherds. The pope was certainly eager to end the flagship event of the feast in which half-naked men chased women and beat them with animal skin straps to ensure their fertility and a happy pregnancy.

Illustration of Pope Gelasius I whose pontificate lasted from 1 to 492

Finally, it was not until 1496, more than a thousand years later, that Pope Alexander VI ordered that Valentine's Day officially becomes the Patron Saint of Lovers.

The first Valentine's Day cards

Montage of two old illustrations showing Charles, Duke of Orleans and Marie de Clèves side by side

The tradition of writing a text to our lover for Valentine's Day originated in England in the 15th century, when Charles, Duke of Orleans, was a prisoner of the English since the famous battle of Agincourt (1415). On Valentine's Day, from the Tower of London where he was imprisoned, he allegedly addressed love letters to Marie de Clèves with whom he was madly in love. Luck smiled on him since he married her on his return. These writings would therefore the first known cards of Valentine's Day.

The mating season in birds

From the Middle Ages, in France and England, popular belief said that the breeding season for birds started on February 14. The story goes that the young men took the opportunity to make their declaration of love and that the young girls looked at the birds to find out the identity of their future husband. If they saw a robin, they would marry a sailor. If it was a sparrow, he was predicted to have a happy marriage with an unfortunate being while if it was a goldfinch, a rich man would ask for his hand.

Farfetched? Perhaps. Poetic? Certainly.

My galantin

Of Norman origin, the word "galantin" designated the lover in the Middle Ages. Besides, the term "gallant" still exists in our vocabulary today. Difficult not to recognize there a strange resemblance to the name of the Saint. Could it be possible that this lexicological proximity was worth Valentin, the role of Patron Saint of Lovers?

That said, we see that it is not yesterday that we want to celebrate love. Whether it's new or cultivated for several years, Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to proclaim our love for loved ones. There are certainly flowers and chocolate, but fine jewelry remains the ultimate gift idea. And if the idea took you from him ask for his hand For Valentine's Day. Take the opportunity to buy a local product, handcrafted according to the highest standards of jewelry making. The Flamme en rose jewelry store always accompanies you in the defining moments of your life.

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Hug me 50
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$ 2,490
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