Sunday, February 6, 2011

The History and Legend behind St Valentine's Day

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Saint Valentine's Day, commonly shortened to Valentine's Day  held on February 14. The day is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. It was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI, but its religious observance is still permitted. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, chocolates, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines").
The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer[18] Chaucer wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

["For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."]

This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.[19] A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381.[20] (When they were married eight months later, they were each only 15 years old).

Ten words that represent Valentine's Day
#1: Romantic

Marked by expressions of love or affection; conducive to or suitable for lovemaking; a person of romantic temperament or disposition (noun)
About the word:
We associate this word with sweetness and love, but it emerged from the conquering powers of the Roman Empire.
The expansion of ancient Rome created various dialects of Latin called "romans." (These evolved into Italian, French, Spanish, and others – the Romance languages.)
"Romans" were used to write popular stories involving chivalric or courtly love, and such tales became known as romances.
If we describe Rome today as a "romantic" city, we’re using a word that has travelled a long way to come home.

#2: Valentine

A sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine's Day; a gift or greeting sent on this day
About the word:
Christianity has more than one martyr named Valentine, and the one, true Valentine is uncertain.
Romantics favor the tale of the third-century Roman physician and priest Valentine. Supposedly, Valentine had fallen in love with his jailer's daughter, and shortly before his death sent a letter to her "from your Valentine."

#3: Amour

A usually illicit love affair
About the word:
In 2010, a poll of linguists rated amour – the French word for "love," simple and sweet – the most romantic word in the world. In English, the word gains drama and loses innocence.

#4: Adonis

A very handsome young man
About the word:
In Greek mythology, the beautiful young Adonis was beloved by both Persephone and Aphrodite, so Zeus decreed the young man should divide his time and attention between the two goddesses.
He was later killed by a wild boar – an attack that may have been arranged to avenge another of Adonis' romantic intrigues.

#5: Aphrodisiac

Something that excites; an agent that arouses or is held to arouse sexual desire
About the word:
Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love (who was infatuated with Adonis) gave the Greeks the words 'aphrodisia' (heterosexual pleasure) and 'aphrodisiakos' (a gem with aphrodisiac powers).

#6: Infatuation

Foolish or extravagant love or admiration
About the word:
An infatuation, by definition, is an emotion that shouldn't be taken too seriously. The word's etymology makes the same point. It traces back to the Latin for "foolish" or "silly," as does another insulting term: fatuous.

#7: Casanova

Lover, especially a man who is a promiscuous and unscrupulous lover
About the word:
In the 1700s, Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was a spy, a clergyman, a gambler, and apparently a man of charm. He was also a writer. His autobiographical musings about his more than 100 lovers made his name a byword for a man who loves too much.

#8: Unrequited

Not reciprocated or returned in kind
About the word:
Where there's unrequited, there's requited. So what does requite mean? To requite (a somewhat quaint term) is to give or do something in return for something that another person has given or done.
So 'unrequited love' suggests an imbalance: too much love paid out and too little paid back.

#9: Saccharine

Overly sentimental; mawkish; unpleasantly sweet
About the word:
Boxes of candy covered with cupids and hearts might, for some people, have a saccharine quality – both in sentiment and taste.
For others, romantic and sugary excess is essential to Valentine's Day.
Either way, saccharine comes from saccharum, Latin for "sugar." The word dates back to the 1600s. The calorie-free sweetener saccharin (without an e) arrived a couple hundred years later.

#10: Sweetheart

Darling; one who is loved
About the word:
The Greeks and Egyptians believed the heart was the center of the emotions. English speakers borrowed the idea, and sweet + heart has been a term of endearment – particularly for romantic love – since the Middle Ages.

Sources: Merriam Webster


Jane Holland said...


Only a few days to go!!!!!


Maggi Andersen said...

Yes, best of luck. I hope it all goes swimmingly, Jane.