Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Day of Love

This now global festival of romantic love and its accompanying chocolates, cards and flowers was surprisingly named after two early Christian Martyrs (Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome) who were later sainted.

The story of these men has been embroidered over the years into various myths and legend. In one version of the tale, valentine resists a law attributed to the Roman Emperor Claudius II ordering that young men remain single.

In other version of the myth, valentine is imprisoned by Claudius and subsequently falls in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he is executed sends her a note signed, “from your valentine”.

In the middle ages, literary legend Geoffrey Chaucer and the flourishing
Tradition of courtly love cemented valentine’s day into the calendar, turning it into a romantic holiday.

Chaucer’s Parliament is set in the fictional context of a valentine day’s tradition, but of course no such tradition existed before Chaucer wrote about it.

Valentine’s Day was reinvented in the 1840s when an American woman, Esther Howland, created the first mass produced cards which were made of embossed paper lace. The traditional exchange of love notes has now blossomed into an industry that sees an amazing one billion cards sent every year.

In a rather telling confirmation of the oft heard female assertion that mean are unromantic, it has been estimated that a disproportionate 85 percent of these cards are purchased by women. Most recently in a send-up of po-faced political correctness, Valentine’s Day has been renamed Single Awareness Day by some bright spark.

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