When modern-day citizens think of “Valentine’s Day”, “St. Valentine”, or see a valentine card, the immediate thought is that of the celebration of love and lovers. Exchanging and receiving Valentine’s cards was probably a fixture in childhood as well, complete with school- or home-based parties centering around pink and red cutout hearts and candy. As we grew older, Valentine’s Day was a time to present or be presented with red roses, chocolates, and expressive cards designed to pull at the heartstrings.

However, this custom of expressing our love for our significant others stems from a less-than-lovely background. The person more commonly known as Saint Valentine was in actuality a quite chaste man, not at all concerned with cupids and hearts, the mating of birds, or the exchanges of lovers. He was said to have suffered from epilepsy, and it was believed that after his death he would be the likely Saint of epileptic sufferers. In some parts of Germany, epilepsy used to be known as “valentine’s sickness” and as Veltins- Dance, similar to the way the St. Vitus’ Dance is known for a particular type of illness. According to one record, St. Valentine was actually a holy priest in Rome who, along with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. Valentine was apprehended and sent by the Emperor to the Prefect of Rome. There he was made to renounce his faith, commanded to be beaten by clubs, and later beheaded. His execution was carried out on February 14.

Apparently from that description, our present-day celebration of his death seems to be quite accidental. When the Romans invaded Britain, they introduced their various religious festivals and customs. One of these festivals is Lupercalia, a spring festival that took place upon February 15. It could be because St. Valentine was martyred on February 14 that his name has ever since been associated with Lupercalia. In later years, early Christian fathers were busy obliterating pagan superstitions and dates by substituting them with those of the Christian belief. Names of many of the martyred Saints were used to replace the festivals. Since St. Valentine had suffered on the eve of the Lupercalia, the 14th of February, his name and memory would forevermore be associated with the festival of spring.

Over the coming years, many practices became popular in connection with Valentine’s Day. In the early part of last century, many parts of English villages would find the local children proceeding through the village collecting wreaths of flowers. The girls would choose one of the younger boys in the party and cover him with the garlands, placing him at the head of the parade. As they dance through the village, they would sing:

Good morrow to you, Valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine
Two before and three behind
Good morrow to you, Valentine

This is just one of many customs performed by children of a past age to honor Valentine’s Day. As you can see, the connection between St. Valentine and our modern-day celebrations is a mysterious one. Considering where it is said St. Valentine came from such an unremarkable background, one can only wonder if he would really mind the popularity and association of love in his honor.

It’s almost here…Valentine’s Day. Another way and another day for you and your partner to express your undying love for each other. With so much commercial emphasis on Valentine’s Day, it can be a lot of pressure to make sure that you please your sweetie. After all, what can be worse than being overlooked on the day most promoted to celebrate your love?! Here are some hints to make sure that your Valentine’s Day is one to remember.

Food, glorious food
It has always been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But that can go both ways, especially if your man is the dominant force in the kitchen. However, why not consider making your Valentine’s dinner together? You chop, he sautés, you set the table (get out your good linens!), and he pours the drinks. Of course, the flowers you received from FTD at work today should be prominently displayed in the center of your table. A quiet night, soft lights, easy music, and good food are the staples to a romantic evening. For recipe ideas, check out HomeArts, they have interesting selections that will be sure to please even the most discriminating palate. An evening like this just won’t be complete without a good bottle of vino, so make sure you refer to your very own VirtualVineyard for the best selections and Valentine’s gift ideas. An intimate dinner like this should be an excellent way to enjoy each other’s company without the rush, rush, rush of your everyday life. After the table’s been cleared, now you can present the after-dinner treat for your love. Is chocolate their passion? Maybe they’re a cookie monster. Either way, you’ll be prepared for the love in their eyes when you hand them a choice box of Godiva chocolates (kosher chocolates are available, too). The CookieGarden will be happy to ship your guy his very own batch of cookies…well, okay, you can have one.

Gifts Galore
So maybe your love bug doesn’t have a sweet tooth. No problem. Certainly they would appreciate another token of affection. Is there a special perfume that’s been on the not-so-subtle wish list lately? Now is the time to show you’re savvy and get them the designer scent they want, at a discount to boot! 98Perfume and FragranceNet will help you out with your selection process, and there are Valentine’s Day specials going on now. Is there a show in your area that someone special is just dying to see? Reserve your seats today with a click of the mouse at TicketMaster. Make sure to get one for you too!

Flowers are the food of love – sometimes!
Roses are the universal sign of love, if they’re red. Give someone a yellow rose, and they’ll see that you respect their friendship. A single rose is simply elegant. However, if you get a narcissus flower for Valentine’s Day or any day for that matter, watch out: someone thinks you are too self-centered! Unless of course, you just happen to like the flower…! For a quick rundown on flowers and what they mean, check out HomeArts flower page. They have all sorts of flower meanings, plus an area to check out Alternatives to sending a dozen roses.

This should give you a heads-up on celebrating February 14 with a bit of a unique flair.