Popular gifts for your Valentine this year include: Valentine flowers ordered online and delivered the next day, trendy items like gourmet popcorn gift towers and gourmet popcorn in one of thirty or so specialty flavors of popcorn, American roses preserved in 24 karat gold in unique designs, heart shaped cookies, chocolate-covered long-stem strawberries, wine gift baskets, spa gift baskets, purse hangers, a monthly membership for designer handbag rentals, gift certificates for day spas and massage treatment, and even personalized underwear.
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History of St. Valentineâ€™s Day
Everyone knows that February 14 is Valentine's Day. Also that on this special day, gifts of candy, flowers, jewelry, cards and other tokens of love and affection are exchanged. But did you know that Valentineâ€™s Day originated in 5th Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop who gave his life for love? Read on after the listings for more Valentine's Day lore. Before the advent of St. Valentine's Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man in that manner would be his sexual companion during the remaining year. In an effort to do away with the pagan festival, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery. Instead of the names of young women, the box would contain the names of saints. Both men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the game was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year. As you can imagine, young Roman men were not too pleased with these changes.
Instead of the pagan god Lupercus, the Church looked for a suitable patron saint of love to take his place. They found an appropriate choice in Valentine, who, in AD 270 had been beheaded by Emperor Claudius.
Claudius had determined that married men made poor soldiers. So he banned marriage from his empire. But Valentine would secretly marry young men that came to him. When Claudius found out about Valentine, he first tried to convert him to paganism. But Valentine reversed the strategy, trying instead to convert Claudius. When he failed, he was stoned and beheaded. While Valentine was imprisoned, he fell in love with his jailer's blind daughter. During this time, her blindness was cured, presumably due to Valentine's great love for her. Before he was executed, he sent a farewell message to her, signed "From your Valentine." The phrase has been used on his day ever since.
In time, the lottery was dispensed with, replaced by young swains sending tokens of love to their intended in the name of St. Valentine. The first Valentine card www.hallmark.com was derived from this tradition. The first true Valentine card was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time. Cupid, another holiday symbol, became associated with Valentineâ€™s Day because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid, his bow, arrow and quiver, often appear on Valentine cards.
Today, many elementary school children bring in Valentine cards for everyone in their class. And couples young and old celebrate this holiday with gifts of fine chocolates sent in red, heart-shaped boxes, flowers, jewelry and dinner reservations at fine restaurants. And, in case you were wondering, Red, the color of passion and one's heart, became part of the holiday during Victorian times.
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