“Be my valentine” is a commonly heard phrase as the February 14th comes around, but did you know that it has a confusion of origins?
A mixed history
The month February owes its name to “Februa”, an ancient pre-Roman spring cleansing ritual. The festival itself was replaced by another festival, “Lupercalia”, observed between 13th and 15th February, and which was also a spring festival, but one designed to avert evil spirits, purify the city and release health and fertility. The fertility aspect involved love of a sort, but not the sort we celebrate on Valentine’s Day today.
Fast-forward to the 3rd century AD and we come across Valentine of Rome. Valentine was an active Christian in pagan Rome and legend has it that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry (the Romans believed that an unmarried man made a better soldier). Whilst in the dungeon, he apparently befriended the jailer’s daughter, healing her of a long-time illness, and shortly before his execution, he is said to have left her a farewell letter, which ended with the phrase “Your Valentine”. Sound familiar?
Valentine of Rome was sainted and his saint day was listed as February 14th, known as St. Valentine’s Day. The cult of courtly love seems to have taken off in the Middle Ages when the English author Chaucer made mention of St. Valentine’s day in connection with love and apparently starting the fashion of giving handmade cards in medieval times. Shakespeare followed suite by talking about love and St. Valentine in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, and the popularity card-giving continued, becoming particularly fashionable in Britain and the United States in the 1800s.
Now, the day is celebrated widely with the giving of cards and gifts and elaborate gestures, and every February 14th, couples flock to city centers, restaurants and streets to spend time together.
The mood of love
Here at MK Illumination, we can’t guarantee that the object of your desire will fall madly in love with you, but we are rather good at creating a romantic mood for shopping centers, public spaces and cities using our custom-designed festive lighting motifs. And yes, Valentine’s Day is definitely a festive period – love is always a good reason to celebrate!
And on that note, we’ll leave you and wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day this February 14th!