Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is everywhere at the moment. Sometimes, it does feel like we are being "hallmarked" and the whole thing descending into mass commercialism.
However, it is quite fun to look at its origins. It has its roots in a rather dubious sounding Pagan fertility festival know as Lupercalia which seemed to involve lots of naked bottom slapping! This was celebrated in Ancient Rome between 13th-15th February.
As is often the case, this Pagan festival appears to have been hijacked by the Christian church. There are two stories of early Christian martyrs both apparently called Valentine, meeting their end on February 14th. In 496 A.D. Pope Celasius actually declared the 14th February to be St. Valentine's Day, a Christian feast day.
It's first association with romantic love appears to come in Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls" in which he writes, 'for this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh to choose his mate." By 1601, Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia's lament to Hamlet: "tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day , all in the morning be time, and I a maid at your window be your Valentine." It was, therefore, an established part of English tradition at this point.
By 1797, the passing of love notes between sweethearts must have been common practice as this was when "The Young Man's Valentine Writer" was published. Obviously, young women were more than capable of writing their own love notes! However, it wasn't really until the advent of the penny post in 1840 that the postal service became affordable to ordinary people, enabling them to easily send anonymous Valentine's cards. At this point printers from all over the country began to mass produce the cards we recognise today with pre-prepared verses and pretty pictures.
In 1847, Esther Howland from Massachusetts introduced our quaint English tradition to the American public, and the rest is history! The United States alone are thought to send 190 million Valentine's cards; worldwide the figure is estimated to be more like 1 billion!
So there it is, a potted history of St. Valentine's Day. Whichever side of the fence you may be on, for me, it represents an end to the greyness of January with a welcome injection of colour and anticipation! Seriously, who doesn't want to receive a token of love and affection on February 14th? Personally, I would prefer that to be a gorgeous piece of handmade jewellery rather than a half dead bouquet from the petrol station.
So for those of you who do celebrate, here for your delight and delectation, a selection of items (not all heart related), designed to earn some serious brownie points!
Silver earrings and bangle, set with beautiful baguette shaped pink tourmalines.
A selection of silver jewellery set with silver, gold plated or rose gold hearts.
A selection of colourful mixed metal jewellery, made from silver, red copper, blue titanium and brass.
Silver nest ring trio. A combination of oxidised silver, silver, and gold with a tiny rhodolite stone.
Tiny porcelain heart necklaces and earrings which have been textured and glazed.
Have a good one!