Who was Saint Valentine, whose date of death is February 14, 269?
St. Valentine was the bishop of the city of Terni, north of Rome, where Christians and non-Christians highly respected him. He is considered as patron of lovers and bridal couples.
The Roman emperor at that time required him to convert to the Roman faith. He refused and was consequently taken into custody by an imperial advisor. Valentin healed this man’s blind daughter. In gratitude, the man’s family was baptized. Valentin was beheaded and the man’s family also died.
Another legend tells that Bishop Valentin helped a couple in love to escape and get married against the will of their parents. So he is also considered to be the founder of happy marriages with “obstacles”.
Since the year 350 Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th. Since the historical sources about his person are too varied and too unclear, the day was removed from the church calendar of saints at the Second Vatican Council in 1965.
However, the folk traditions on this day have been preserved.
In the Middle Ages it was believed that birds begin pairing on 14 February. This is also a possible explanation for the association of the name Valentin with lovers.
Another theory is based on the Norman word galantine (a galan is a distinguished lover). With a V, “Galantin’s Day” became Valentine’s Day.
Another origin is assumed to be the Roman festival of “Lupercalia”. The names of young girls were written on pieces of paper and raffled among the boys. This way they could easily be accompanied for the next year, or at least for the feast day.
In France, Belgium and England, since the end of the 14th century, young couples have been chosen by lot as Valentine and Valentine for each other. Through an exchange of gifts, they were connected with each other until the next Valentine’s Day, similar to an engagement.
In England at the same time there was the belief that the first person of the opposite sex, which you see in the morning of February 14th, is the only and true love.
In the 17th century, the custom developed in the Anglo-Saxon world of sending home-made Valentine’s cards to one’s loved one. In the 18th century the first commercial greeting cards were produced.
“Through the flower”, wishes, requests and hopes could be articulated and, over time, a secret language developed. Not only the colours and varieties, but also every single detail of a bouquet was given its own meaning. These codes are still valid today. They were regionally different and complicated like a foreign language, so that soon separate dictionaries were written about the language of flowers. In the meantime, it has become part of the language and general knowledge that red roses say “I love you”.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote in the 18th century, in her “Letters from Istanbul”, about the meanings of individual flowers prevailing in the Orient. Charlotte de Latour wrote in 1829 in her book “Die Blumenpracht oder Symbolik des Pflanzenreiches”, about the hidden eroticism and language of flowers. A language that is still relevant regardless of WhatsApp and SMS.