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What is the origin of Valentine's Day?

Whether you like it or not, Valentine's Day is one of the most important holidays on the calendar and its origins always arouse curiosity. No less than seven Saints named Valentine share the honour of being celebrated on February 14th and of being the patron saint of lovers, but for most historians, the true identity of Saint Valentine has its origins in ancient Rome.

Father Valentin

It was on February 14, 269, that the Roman Emperor Claudius II had Father Valentinus arrested and executed. Father Valentinus had united young couples in hiding in spite of a law forbidding soldiers of the empire to marry. This law was intended to dissuade the men from staying with their families and thus fill the ranks of the military legions. Valentinus died a defender of marriage and love, but Valentine's Day was not born.

Renaissance style painting showing Valentine's Day uniting a couple under the gaze of two cherubic angels.

From pagan feast to Christian feast

Two centuries later, when Valentinus became a canonized martyr, Pope Gelasius the first decided to kill two birds with one stone. Instead of completely abolishing a very popular pagan feast celebrated on February 15, he Christianized it and merged it with Saint Valentine, the great protector of couples and love. The ancient Roman lupercalia festival no longer fitted in with the beliefs of the Christian church, since it venerated Lupercus, god protector of shepherds and their herds. The pope was certainly eager to put an end to the festival's flagship event in which half-naked men chased women and beat them with strips of animal skin to ensure fertility and a happy pregnancy.

Illustration of Pope Gelasius I whose pontificate lasted from 492 to 496.

Finally, it was not until 1496, more than a thousand years later, that Pope Alexander VI ordered that St. Valentine's Day officially become 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, had been a prisoner of the English since the famous Battle of Azincourt (1415). On Valentine's Day, from the Tower of London where he was imprisoned, he would have addressed love letters to Marie de Clèves, with whom he was madly in love. Luck smiled upon him as he married her on his return. These writings would therefore be the first known Valentine's Day cards.

Mating season for birds

As early as the Middle Ages, in France and England, it was a popular belief that the mating season for birds began on February 14. The story goes that young men took the opportunity to make their declaration of love and that 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, she would marry a poor man, while if it was a goldfinch, a rich man would ask for her hand in marriage.

Wacky? Maybe it is. Poetic? I'm sure it's poetic.

Mon galantin

D’origine normande, le mot «galantin» désignait l’amoureux au Moyen-Âge. D’ailleurs, le terme «galant» existe toujours dans notre vocabulaire d'aujourd’hui. Difficile de ne pas y reconnaitre une étrange ressemblance avec le nom du Saint. Serait-il possible que cette proximité lexicologique ait valu à Valentin, le rôle de Saint Patron de Amoureux?

Having said that (in French), we can see that we have a long history of celebrating love. Whether it is new or has been cultivated for many years, Valentine's Day is the perfect occasion to proclaim our love to our loved one. There are certainly flowers and chocolate, but fine jewellery remains the perfect gift idea. What if you were to ask her for her hand on Valentine's Day. Take the opportunity to buy a local product, handmade according to the highest standards of jewellery making. Flamme en rose will always be with you at the most important moments of your life.

cherished natural diamond ring yellow gold
2,490 $
cherished natural diamond ring yellow gold
2,490 $
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