Tired of fluffy hearts and saccharine sentiments drowning you in sickening sweetness on the 14th February? Perhaps we should hark back to some of the origins and recapture a little of the original meaning of Valentine’s Day.
St Valentine, who wore a distinctive amethyst encrusted ring (the semi-precious stone popular among the clergy and which latterly became the February birthstone) was jailed by Claudius II for performing secret marriages. The Roman emperor had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine, however championed love against war and continued to secretly perform these ceremonies but was unfortunately eventually apprehended by and put to death.
According to legend, while on death row Valentine fell in love with Julia, the blind daughter of his Jailor, and after healing her she returned his love. Before he was executed, he sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” Julia then planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave and today the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. Hereby the Valentine lore is one not founded on Eros (passionate and sexual love) but on agape which is defined as “love: the highest form of love, especially brotherly love, charity; the love of god for man and of man for god.”
While the Christian cult was starting to assert itself, the Romans had their own “pagan” celebrations to mark the time of year – Lupercalia or “Wolf Festival”. This festival honoured Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome. The festival began with the sacrifice of two male goats and a dog whose blood was later smeared on young men, who then after the feast – dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificial goats. Then running round the walls of the Palantine city, they would strike young girls with lashes from whips, who lined up to believe this treatment would ensure fertility, prevent sterility in women and ease the pains of childbirth.
It is only after the poets, Chaucer and Shakespeare took hold of the idea and weaved in their own magic and myth that brought Valentine’s day out of the gravity of blood, sacrifice and spiritualism and into the arms of romance, roses and fluttering hearts that it became the day we now know.
St Valentine’s day gives you the perfect opportunity to shower your special half with romance and gifts. Keep your loved one close to your heart with the Reliquary Heart Locket [P496] illustrated with the secret love poem “Where I am always thou art, Thy image lived within my heart” or you can give a special memento of your eternal affection with the Gothic Matrimony pendant [P659] paired with the Bower Troth Ring [R198]. For a symbol of the intensity of your love try My Chemical Wedding pendant [P453]