Valentine's Day Gifts

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Just as we start to see a little light at the end of the tunnel, bang!!! Valentine’s Day arrives.

After struggling at Christmas trying to find that perfect gift, from online retailers such as Make It Personal, you are once again challenged in how to put your thoughts, love and attention to once again purchasing that most romantic and well sourced personalised Valentine's gift ever. Choose from jewellery, cute teddy bears or even jars of sweets that you can add your own message to and make a unique Valentine’s Gift.

But where did Valentine’s Day all start, and who exactly is this mysterious Saint that has created a long list of traditions so that we are compelled to purchase flowers, cards, chocolates, and other Valentines Gifts for our declared loved ones or shhhhhh secret loved ones !!!!

There still seems to be a great deal of secrecy that veils the truth behind the exact Patron Saint of “Romance”, but it has been long recorded in history that the month of February has been seen as the month to celebrate romance with love and affection. In truth, as most of modern day traditions have evolved, religion seems to have a very strong influence behind this annual event.

Who was Saint Valentine?

The Catholic Church complicate matters by recognising at least three saints that seem to carry the name Valentinus or as more commonly known today, Valentine. It is rumoured that emperor, Claudius II, decreed that single men made better soldiers than men who had perhaps become a little complacent after being married and then having children, and so he outlawed marriage completely for young men. A certain Priest, Valentine, seeing the horrid consequence of this in not being able to bestow love and affection on chosen females continued to carry out wedding ceremonies for young lovers in secret. When however it was discovered that he was performing such tasks the emperor ordered his execution as a result of his defiance.

In addition to this story it was also alleged that Valentine may have been slaughtered for attempting to help imprisoned Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. It is within this myth that the very first interpretation of sending a personalised Valentines Gift or message was suggested. Whist imprisoned he fell in love with a beautiful girl  possibly his jailers daughter, and prior to his death he was alleged to have sent her a note, signed “from your Valentine” a term that even today is used when sending Valentine Gifts to anonymous loved ones.

It is popular and understandable that the reason we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th is that it coincided with the execution and then burial of the Saint, known as Valentine; this took place roughly around 300 AD. However you may be led to believe under certain readings that the date may be relevant to the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, which was commonly known at the time as a festival to celebrate fertility.

Festivities started when the order of Roman priests known as Luperci congregated in caves that were deemed to be sacred and associated to the founders of Rome, Romlus and Remus, where they had been looked after by the controversial god Lupa who took the appearance of a she wolf.

As a mark of sacrifice, a goat would be slaughtered to symbolise fertility, and a dog to balance and to bring purification to the process. The hide of the goat would then be cut into strips, dipped into the blood and paraded through the streets gently slapping women and then crop fields with the hide. The purpose of this was to bring fertility to the women, who encouraged the ceremony, and didn’t seem to be bothered by what would be considered today as a grotesque act.

As part of the on-going celebrations all the young women from the city and villages would place their names in a big urn. Rather unconventional by today’s standards, all the bachelors would then take a lucky dip and would then be paired off with whoever they pulled from the urn, these relationships in many cases ended up in marriage.

With the introduction of Christianity, this was seen as more of a pagan festival, so the two were effectively combined and both celebrated on February 14th in an attempt to bring a more acceptable association to the celebrations.

The Day of Romance as we know it today.
It wasn’t until the end of the 5th century where Valentine’s Day started to take more of a romantic and loving meaning. It was declared by Pope Gelasius that 14th February would be known as Valentine’s Day….however it didn’t become main stream until the middle ages that love was then associated to the mating season of young birds during February.
The very reason that personalised valentines day messages became popular can be traced back as far as the 1400’s. Even today the oldest known valentine’s message can still be seen today as a poem written by the Duke of Orleans addressed to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London soon after his imprisonment after the Battle of Agincourt. In fact many years passed before King Henry V, hired the poet to write a similar note in the style of an anonymous Valentines note to his wife Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain Valentine’s Day started to gain popularity within the more widespread communities around the 17th century, in fact by the middle part of the following century it was seen as common for all classes and society to exchange small Valentine’s Gifts or handwritten Valentine Personalised messages to loved ones anonymously. As printed products started to appear, hand written letters soon became replaced by personalised cards as these were an easy way for people to quickly write messages and enclose into envelopes, slid under doorways or left on windowsills for intended loved ones, and once the postal services became ever cheaper this expanded the reach and protected the anonymity of the sender even more.

It is estimated today that 1 billion Valentine’s cards and Valentines Gifts are sent each year making it second to only Christmas for the amount of cards sent.
Today personalised Valentine’s Day messages have evolved and aren’t just restricted just to paper items, now you can have personalised Valentine’s gifts with your message added to them. Online gift sites such as Make It Personal, allow you to have personalised messages written in just a few keys strokes, produced on your chosen item whether that is a chocolate bar, photo frame or charm bracelet to mention but a few possibilities and delivered without you having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Perhaps it’s a good job that Goats and Dogs are not slaughtered anymore, and that online dating has perhaps replaced drawing names out of an urn to encourage love and marriage…..whatever will they think of next?