St Valentine is known nowadays as the Saint patron of lovers, this romantic figure is associated with cute cherubs, red roses, sweet chocolates and romance in general. Celebrated every year on the 14th of February, this has become a popular and optimistic holiday chosen by couples to express their love to each other but the history behind this tradition ignores this saint's tragic fate that was sadly quite common in ancient Roman times.
AN ANCIENT PAGAN TRADITION
Valentine's Day is thought to have originated from the the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia. Held during the middle of February, this ritual consisted of a group of priests called the Luperci who would sacrifice a goat and a dog, cut off a piece of the skin of the two animals, touched it to their foreheads and then struck it against every woman. The belief was that this ritual would make the women more fertile.
Many believed different people (all Christian martyrs executed during Roman times) were the inspiration behind this holiday, however the most popular belief is that St Valentine was a christian priest who -against the roman emperor's orders- carried on performing marriage ceremonies in ancient Rome (3rd century AD).
On the 14th of February in the year 269 AD, Valentine was executed by order of emperor Claudius II. This roman emperor believed that unmarried men made better soldiers but also, soldiers were apparently sparse at this time so having too many married men, was a big inconvenience to the emperor.
THE START OF THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION
In the 5th century AD, Pope Gelasius I (i.e. the Catholic Church), established this date (the 14th of Feb.) as the official date to conmemorated this martyr as a SAINT.
By the Middle Ages, St Valentine had become the patron saint of love and lovers in Christian countries of western Europe and love letters became a tradition between loved-up couple during the Middle Ages. It is believed that the very first Valentine's card dates back from the 16th Century, and someone wrote on it the iconic questions: "Will you be my Valentine?".
His-n-Hers cameo brooch set. Available in the shop. Click here to shop.
MODERN ST VALENTINE'S TRADITIONS TO THIS DAY
It was in the 19th Century when it started the modern commercialization of St Valentines as we know it today.
In the 2nd half of the 19th Century, manufacturers in the USA started to market holiday cards to be given on this special day and Cadbury (the chocolate maker) created its first themed chocolate box. Since then more and more companies - specially in the food sector- have joined the marketing bandwagon which has made this holiday one of the most popular celebrated occasions throughtout the year.
Nowadays people have mixed feelings about St Valentines, some people love to celebrate it, others just simple loathe it and other people appreciate the gesture but choose to ignore the date altogether and instead like to show their love in alternative way, by choosing unusual love gifts or celebrating on a different date altogether.
Anatomical heart cameo brooch. Available in the shop. Click here to shop.
Anatomical hearts are one of the most popular romantic symbols people prefer to own and gift as an alternative to the stereotypical red heart-shape. This alternative representation seems to be seen as more honest and sincere as it represents the real thing - the human heart- rather than an abstract symbol.
Dainty red rose cameo bracelet. Available in the shop. Click here to shop.
Red roses are still a popular gift to give, specially as a declaration of love. However as well as gifting the flower (or a bunch of them) it has increasily become more and more popular to gift red rose-themed jewellery, as the jewellery won't perish and your pieces can be relished for years to come.
Feel free to check the website to find these and more alternative darkly romantic jewellery for your dark Valentine! You'll find no shortage of anatomical hearts, romantic roses and some dark alternative hearts for him and for her.