Bring out the chocolates! Break out the scotch! It’s time for cheesy cards and plastic roses! The feast of Saint Valentine is upon us!
…but what…. “is” … Valentines Day?
Modern legends claim that Valentines Day was created by the Hallmark Greeting Card Company to sell more cards. Although it’s true that Valentines Day has always been the hallmark of their profits for many years, there were a few “Saint Valentines” in history that the “holiday” is based upon.
My personal favorite was the St. Valentine that was martyred in Africa while on a mission. His head was then shipped back to England, preserved, and venerated. The most popular “Saint Valentine” was the dubious legend of Saint Valentinus of Rome who would preside over illegal marriages of Christian soldiers and non-Christian women. When he was found out and went to jail he “healed” the jailers daughter and ended up wooing her with his poems of love – famously ending his last letter to her with, “…with love, your Valentine”.
The first time the holiday was actually associated with romantic love was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s, Parlement of Foules (1382):
“For this was seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”
The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, both of whom were only 15 years old at the time.
There’s a little controversy on what exact day Chaucer was talking about because birds don’t mate in England until at least early March, but since Chaucer has been dead for over 600 years, modern society has been forced to guesstimate.
Throughout the rest of the Middle Ages writers waxed and waned about love on Valentines Day like it was their job to write about love and beauty or something. As a matter of fact the first “Roses are red” verse was coined in 1590 in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene:
“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew / And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew”
The tradition of writing poems, sending cards, buying sweets, etc. never really ended. The first real publishing of Valentines Day cards happened in England in the early 19th century and with the popularity of the holiday and the expansion of the British Empire the tradition carried over to a large majority of the planet.
So here we are – standing in Jared wondering what socially acceptable jewelry isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg, scrambling for reservations, or madly texting our entire contact list with the same tired pick-up line because we’re too scared to be alone.
Maybe you simply don’t care, maybe the only loving you really need on February 14th can be found at the bottom of a whiskey bottle? Hey!… Who am I to judge?
Regardless of how you spend your time this weekend – have a Happy Valentines Day and just remember, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.
Here are some love, anti-love, and sad sappy songs for your listening pleasure!
Download the PCM Valentines Day playlist to your MUSICBox On-Demand via the PCM Online Music Catalog by following this link.
To access our Online Music Catalog contact PCM Tech Support at firstname.lastname@example.org