Although Valentine’s Day has passed, we (or at least the romance-lovers) still remember the fragrance of the beautiful flowers given to us by our admirers, still have the taste of Belgian chocolate in our mouths, and tucked away a few Valentines here and there.
Like Mardi Gras and many other cultural celebrations in the world, Valentine’s Day is one of the more bizzare “holidays” turned from the ancient Catholic tradition and capitalized into one of the most commercialized holidays in some countries. Many people associate Valentine’s Day with cupids, hearts, and well, plain old love. What no one suspects is that Valentine’s Day is also a “holiday” with one of the most obscure backgrounds.
An ode comes into mind as history is re-written, There was once a saint, called Valentine – Well there were numerous Catholic saints named Valentine so it’s not very useful to know that there was a saint named Valentine. There are legends, however of the history behind this “holiday” that spread from Europe to North America and over to the more-developed countries of Asia. Like some love, some legends in appearence are very ‘dottingly’ corny.
One legend tells of a priest named Valentine who secretly married young men determined to be soldiers by the Roman Emperor in the city of Rome. The Emperor at that time (3rd century), decreed that the best soldiers were the unmarried ones, which was why Valentine married them off in privacy as to spread love. We shift to another legend that tells of Valentine being a prisoner before the Renaissance age, it is said that Valentine fell in love with a woman who passed by his cell’s window every day and fell in love with her.
It’s a bit creepy to have a prisoner spy on you, but nevertheless right before his lonely death in prison, he wrote a letter to his love signing “Love, your Valentine”, which supposedly explains the repeated ending of Valentine cards.
Legends pass and fade, but Valentine’s Day have permeated throughout numerous cultures up to the 21st century starting in Europe and spreading over to the Americas in form of homemade gifts and small tokens of affection being sent to each other on the day. In the late 1800′s, the first Valentine cards came to light as they were mass-produced which set the stage for this “holiday” to become commercialized. From the fields of America to the islands of Japan, chocolate became prominent in showing secret admiration for your crush. In today’s American youth (or so I’m told), candy and chocolate are considered to be ‘eternal’ Valentine gifts while cliche Valentine cards are out of the question along with the sending of flowers and stuffed animals.
As years passed by, so too did the Valentine cards. As of this year, two billion Valentine cards were sent over to numerous addresses. Despite its obscurity and questionable standing of a commercial holiday, Valentine’s Day remains to be one of the very few non-religious and non-solemn holidays ever in the course of humanity and is shared by all those over the Earth.
- Yu Kim