Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved
ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we
celebrate this holiday?
The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do
know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it
today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or
Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who
served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men
made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men
-- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied
Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's
actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other stories suggest that
Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman
prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While
in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his
jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that
he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use
today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly
emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no
surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England
and France.
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to
commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -- which probably occurred
around 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate
Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the
pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring
and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them
out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors.
Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival
dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders
Romulus and Remus. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman
priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders
of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then
sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat's hide
into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both
women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women
welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them
more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women
in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose
a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches
often ended in marriage.
Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman
'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, during
the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the
beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February -Valentine's Day -- should be a day for romance.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of
Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at
the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript
collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that
King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine
of Valois.
In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth
century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all
social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the
century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing
technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a
time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also
contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans
probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A.
Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.
According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent
each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An
estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Approximately 85 percent of all
valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is
celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
A Origem do Dia dos Namorados
No Brasil comemoramos o dia dos namorados no dia 12 de junho. Na Europa e na
América do Norte, essa festa é tradicionalmente comemorada no dia 14 de fevereiro, dia de São
Valentim.
Como muitas outras datas comemorativas católicas, sua origem está na Roma Antiga, nas
festas pagãs de Lupercália, que aconteciam em meados de fevereiro.
O festival era dedicado a Lupercus (protetor dos rebanhos e pastores) e Juno (deusa do
amor).
Em 496, as comemorações da Lupercália foram incorporadas às tradições cristãs e
celebradas no dia 14 de fevereiro, em memória de São Valentim, padre romano morto em 270. No
século XVII, ingleses e franceses passaram a celebrar o Dia de São Valentim como o dia da união
dos namorados. Um século depois, a data foi adotada nos Estados Unidos. Canadenses,
mexicanos e australianos também mantêm a tradição: no dia 14 de fevereiro os casais participam
de missas e trocam presentes, pedindo proteção e felicidade ao santo. Mas, ao contrário da versão
brasileira do dia de São Valentim, o nosso Dia dos Namorados, é comum nos países europeus as
pessoas presentearem não somente seus namorados(as), mas aqueles que gostam, como mães,
pais, irmãos, amigos.
No Brasil, apesar de ser comemorado às vésperas do dia de Santo Antônio, o famoso
santo casamenteiro, tudo começou com uma campanha realizada em 1949 pelo publicitário João
Dória - na época na Agência Standard Propaganda - sob encomenda da extinta loja Clipper.
Para melhorar as vendas de junho, então o mês mais fraco para o comércio, e com o apoio
da confederação de Comércio de São Paulo, instituiu a data com o slogan: "Não é só de beijos que
se prova o amor".
A Standard ganhou o título de agência do ano e a moda pegou, para a alegria dos
comerciantes. Desde então, 12 de junho se tornou uma data especial, unindo ainda mais os casais
apaixonados, com direito a troca de presentes, cartões, bilhetes, flores, bombons....uma infinidade
de
opções
para
se
dizer
"Eu
Te
Amo!".
Nem todos os países comemoram o dia dos namorados como nós fazemos. Na Itália, as
pessoas fazem um grande banquete no dia 14 de Fevereiro. Na Inglaterra, as crianças cantam
canções a recebem doces e balas de frutas de seus pais. E na Dinamarca, as pessoas mandam
flores prensadas umas às outras, chamadas "flocos de neve".
No Japão a data foi introduzida em 1936 e o costume neste dia é as mulheres
presentearem os seus amados com caixas de chocolates. Embora a data represente uma
oportunidade para as mulheres declararem o seu amor, nos últimos anos o giri choco (chocolate de
cortesia ou “obrigação”) também se encontra presente na cesta de compra de grande parcela da
população feminina. Mas, muita gente ainda reluta em adotar a data, alegando que se trata de uma
jogada comercial, no que não deixam de ter razão, uma vez que o Valentine’s Day representa
cerca de 20% do volume anual de vendas das fábricas de chocolate do arquipélago. Mas, o que
vale mesmo é a intenção e não há como negar que a vida fica um pouquinho mais doce com estas
declarações de amor e com estes chocolates.
Nos Estados Unidos nos dias que antecedem 14 de fevereiro, lojas de cartões, livrarias,
lojas de departamentos e drogarias oferecem uma grande variedade de cartões comemorativos
chamados Valentines.
Os adultos costumam comprar cartões para acompanhar presentes mais elaborados como
doces, flores ou perfumes. Nas escolas as crianças apreciam comprar ou fazer cartões para seus
amigos e professores.
O Papa Gelasius declarou o dia 14 de fevereiro como "Valentine's Day"em 498 a.C. Depois,
durante a Idade Média, o dia passou a ser dedicado aos apaixonados, como o Dia dos Namorados
no
Brasil.
Na Inglaterra, Valentine's Day transformou-se em feriado por volta do século XVII.
Namorados e pretendentes passaram a trocar bilhetinhos de amor e presentes.
Nos Estados Unidos, o feriado foi fixado no calendário em 1700. Em 1840, Esther A.
Howland começou a produzir em massa lembrancinhas para comemorar o Valentine's Day.
Uma Poética Fábula de Amor da Mitologia
Psique era uma jovem tão linda que Vênus passou a ter ciúmes dela. A deusa deu ordens a
Cupido para induzir Psique a apaixonar-se por alguma criatura de má aparência, porém o
próprio Cupido tornou-se seu amante. Cupido a pôs num palácio, mas somente a visitava na
escuridão e a proibiu de tentar vê-lo. Movidas pelo ciúme as irmãs de Psique disseram-lhe
que ele era um monstro e iria devorá-la.
Certa noite Psique pegou uma lamparina e iluminou o quarto para ver Cupido adormecido.
Excitada diante da visão de sua beleza ela deixou cair sobre Cupido uma gota do óleo da
lamparina, e o despertou. Por causa disso o deus abandonou-a, ressentido pela sua
desobediência. Sozinha e cheia de remorsos Psique procurou o amante por toda a terra, e
várias tarefas difíceis lhe foram impostas por Vênus. A primeira delas foi separar na
escuridão da noite as impurezas de um monte enorme de várias espécies de grãos, porém as
formigas apiedaram-se de Psique e vieram em grande número para realizar a tarefa por ela.
E assim, por um meio ou por outro, todas as tarefas foram executadas, exceto a última, que
consistia em descer ao Hades e trazer o cofre da beleza usado por Perséfone. Psique havia
praticamente conseguido realizar a proeza, quando teve a curiosidade de abrir o cofre; este
continha não a beleza, e sim um sono mortal que a dominou. Entretanto Júpiter,
pressionado por Cupido, consentiu finalmente em seu casamento com a amante, e Psique
subiu ao céu.
"Embora sem um templo, embora sem altar!"
A história de Cupido e Psique é, geralmente, considerada alegórica. Psique em grego
significa borboleta como alma. Não há alegoria mais notável e bela da imortalidade da
alma como a borboleta, que, depois de estender as asas, do túmulo em que se achava,
depois de uma vida mesquinha e rastejante como lagarta, flutua na brisa do dia e torna-se
um dos mais belos e delicados aspectos da primavera. Psique é, portanto, a alma humana,
purificada pelos sofrimentos e infortúnios, e preparada, assim, para gozar a pura e
verdadeira felicidade.
Nas obras de arte, Psique é representada como uma jovem com asas de borboleta,
juntamente com Cupido, nas diferentes situações descritas pela fábula.
The History of Cupid - The God of Love!
Cupid is the most famous of Valentine symbols. He is known as a mischievous,
winged child armed with bow and arrows. The arrows signify desires and
emotions of love, and Cupid aims those arrows at Gods and Humans, causing
them to fall deeply in love. Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of
love and lovers. In ancient Greece, he was known as Eros, the young son of
Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's, he was Cupid, and
his mother was Venus.
There is a very interesting story about Cupid and his mortal bride Psyche in
Roman mythology. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, and ordered
Cupid to punish the mortal. But instead, Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He
took her as his wife, but as a mortal, she was forbidden to look at him.
Psyche was happy until her sisters persuaded her to look at Cupid. As soon as
Psyche looked at Cupid, he punished her by leaving her. Their lovely castle and
gardens vanished too. Psyche found herself alone in an open field with no signs
of other beings or Cupid. As she wandered trying to find her love, she came upon
the temple of Venus. Wishing to destroy her, the goddess of love gave Psyche a
series of tasks, each harder and more dangerous than the last.
For her last task, Psyche was given a little box and told to take it to the
underworld. She was told to get some of the beauty of Proserpine, the wife of
Pluto, and put it in the box. During her trip, she was given tips on avoiding the
dangers of the realm of the dead. She was also warned not to open the box. But
temptation overcame Psyche, and she opened the box. But instead of finding
beauty, she found deadly slumber.
Cupid found her lifeless on the ground. He gathered the deadly sleep from her
body and put it back in the box. Cupid forgave her, as did Venus. The gods,
moved by Psyche's love for Cupid, made her a goddess.
Today, Cupid and his arrows have become the most popular of love signs, and
love is most frequently depicted by two hearts pierced by an arrow, Cupid's
arrow.
VALENTINE'S DAY
Date: February 14
Origins: Nobody knows exactly who St. Valentine was. As a matter
of fact, church records show at least two people named St.
Valentine. Both of these men were thrown in jail. One went to jail
almost 1,700 years ago for performing marriages against the wishes
of the Roman Emperor. The other Valentine was thrown in jail for
helping some Christians. While in jail, he fell in love with the
jailer's blind daughter. His love for her and his great faith managed
to miraculously heal her from her blindness. Before he was taken to
his death (it is said that he was beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D.),
he signed a farewell message to her, “From your Valentine.” The
phrase has been used on his day ever since.
It was in the year 496 that Pope Celasius set February 14 as the date
to honor St. Valentine. The holiday fell on the day before the
Roman Lupercalia Festival, a time to honor the god who protected
crops and animals from wolves. The Lupercalia Festival was
celebrated on February 15. Over the years, Valentine's Day and the
Lupercalia Festival were joined into one holiday and became a time
to celebrate love and affection.
Celebration in the U.S.: Shortly before February 14, card shops,
bookstores, department stores, and drugstores display a wide
assortment of greeting cards called valentines. As a matter of fact,
Valentine's Day is second only to Christmas in the number of cards
sent through the U.S. mail. There are special valentines with
messages directed to specific family members. Cupid, another
symbol of the holiday, became associated with it
because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god
of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on
Valentine cards.
For sweethearts and friends, there are valentines
in every imaginable style - sentimental, restrained,
sophisticated, humorous, or insulting. Adults
usually purchase valentines to accompany a more elaborate gift,
such as candies, flowers, or perfume. School children enjoy buying
or making valentines for their friends and teachers.
Suggestion: Students and teachers can exchange friendly messages
(along with candy). This can be done as a "secret friend" game.