The First Valentine

The First Valentine

There are many legends written about St Valentine, according to one of them. It was written that in the 3rd Century Valentine was a priest who was there while the Emperor Claudius II was in power. Claudius thought that soldiers performed better when they were single and so he decided to ban marriage for young men.

Valentine thought this unjust and agreed to help many young lovers marry in secret. Once Claudius found out about this he gave the orders for Valentine be put to death.

Having said this, there is another legend which states that Valentine was killed after being discovered that he helped Christians to escape from Roman prisons. Prior to being killed and while Valentine was in prison, he sent the first valentine to a young girl, he had fallen in love with who visited him. He also wrote her a letter and signed it, “from your Valentine.” This phrase is still used today. The legends portray Valentine as a predominantly heroic, compassionate and romantic person, who went on to become one of the most popular saints in England as well as France.  

There is however also another version of the story, which suggests that Valentine’s day is in the middle of February and the Christians made it a Valentine’s feast day although it originated from a pagan celebration of Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus and also to Romulus and Remus. It was believed that Romulus and Remus, who were the founders of Rome were taken care of by a she-wolf(lupa). A goat and a dog were used as a sacrifice for fertility and purification. The goat’s skin was stripped and dipped in a sacrificial blood and the crop fields and women were gently touched with it to promote fertility. The women wanted this, as they wanted to be fertile. Their names were then placed in a pot and then the single men would choose a name from the pot and stayed with the woman they chose.  Many of them later became married. This festival was considered to be un-Christian-like and ended in the 5th century when Pope Gelasius officially made February 14th St.Valentine’s Day.  This was considered to be a day for romance. Although this began in the Middle Ages, it wasn’t until 1415 that the first Valentine poem was written by the Duke of Orleans, Charles for his wife, while being in the prison of the Tower of London. This greeting is now in the British Library, London.

Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in many countries as couples exchange gifts and cards to celebrate their love for each other. Many couples also get married or proposed to on Valentine’s Day as it is the special day for love.

Are you looking for a gift for someone special this Valentine’s Day? Browse our collection for jewellery gift ideas for her

By Pamela Sommers

Pamela is a London jewellery specialist and founder of SommerSparkle, an award-winning online boutique filled with beautiful jewellery & accessories to 'add a touch of sparkle to your life.'


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