Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day – is the Holiday celebrated every year on February 14th when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts (traditionally flowers).
The holiday has origins in the pre-Roman pastoral annual festival of Lupercalia, held on February 15th. It was observed in the city of Rome to avert evil spirits and purify the city. Releasing health and fertility and the pairing of couples. It was at the end of the 5th century that Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century. As the story goes and truly historians still don’t really even know – there were several Christian Martyrs named Valentine. The day may have come from a priest who was martyred by the emperor. While imprisoned, the priest had signed a letter “From your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter. There is also another legend that states St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the men from war (single men were known to be better soldiers).
Formal messages or “valentines” appeared in the 1500s and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s when the United States joined the holiday tradition. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman God of love, along with hearts which elicit the value of emotion. Still to this day traditional gifts of candy and flowers – particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love are given on Valentine’s Day.
As a florist – we are thankful that the traditional gift of flowers are still given as a symbol of love. According to floriography (the language of flowers), the red rose is said to be an expression of passionate or true love, hence it’s association with Valentine’s Day. A pink rose signifies warm affection, while yellow roses are associated with joy friendship and new beginnings.
Valentine’s Day is historically supposed to coincide with the beginning of Spring and birds’ mating, a time when garden roses would start to bloom. However, come mid February in the tundra of Minnesota, we are usually still knee deep in snow.
No matter the real story behind St. Valentine’s Day – one thing is for sure “love is the closest thing to magic” – and don’t forget to send flowers!