The Story of Valentine's Day

Hello lovelies,

We all know that Valentine's Day is a day of romance, flowers, chocolates, and, of course, jewelry. But how many of us know the true origins of the holiday? We thought we would take a liberty by offering a little history lesson in love...

It started with Saint Valentine...

There are a few legends in the Catholic Church about a martyred Saint Valentine. Our favorite of these? Saint Valentine, imprisoned and brutalized by Romans, fell in love with his jailor's daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before Valentine's death, he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine"--words we continue to use every Valentine's Day!

Then it took on new meaning...

Before Valentine's Day was "created", the pagan celebration of Lupercalia occurred in mid-February every year. It was essentially a fertility festival, wherein women were "slapped" with blood (usually of a sacrificial animal) in hopes the ritual would make them fertile in the next year.

History.com says, "Lupercalia was a bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility." Many historians deem that this pagan holiday had a profound influence on Valentine's Day, contributing to it ultimately becoming a celebration of romance, intimacy, and love.

Before long, we started sending "Valentines"...

Historians say the oldest known written valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. It went just like this:

My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

 

Then England picked up the tradition...

By the 1600s, Valentine's Day began to be celebrated among all social classes in Great Britain. Within a couple hundred years, small gifts and Valentine's notes were exchanged, and by the 20th century, printed Valentine's cards started to come into rotation. 

Then America got in on the action...

Well, it wasn't just the United States. Mexico and Canada also started taking part, as well as France and Australia (a GB colony). In the 1840s, a woman named Esther A. Howland began selling mass-produced Valentine's cards in America. To this day, she is known as the "Mother of the Valentine." In fact, Howland's creations are the reason we recognize the lace-bordered red heart card as the quintessential Valentine card today. 

Valentine's Day, today.

Today, Valentine's Day is widely celebrated in the western world, with true romantics opting for luxurious gifts and proclamations of love every year. Of course, the gift of jewelry is nothing new--women have been adorned with jewelry by loved ones long before the holiday came into fruition. That said, a sparkling gift given on Valentine's Day is something we at SW can absolutely get behind.

 

xo-sara-weinstock