The True Story of Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day is celebrated every year on 14 February. This day originated as a day of celebration of Christian saints and martyrs named Valentine. But what is 'its' history and why has Valentine's Day become the symbol of lovers? First of all, according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, there are no less than three Saint Valentines that appear in connection with the date of 14 February, however, all these stories can most likely converge into a single story about a single person.
There are several theories, going back in time: one of the first relates to the pagan festival of the Lupercàli, celebrated from 13 to 15 February and replaced in 496 by Pope Gelasius I with a feast dedicated to romantic love and devoid of explicit references to sexuality, under the protection of Saint Valentine. However, the association of the saint with lovers dates back to the end of the second half of the 7th century and owes its popularity to the Benedictines.
Why is Valentine's Day the feast of lovers?
All the anecdotes that bring Valentine's Day closer to love are mostly embellishments and legends: you can often read the story of Saint Valentine who, before his execution, wrote a note signed 'from your Valentine', inspiring today's romantic letters. Here are some of the events and historical reconstructions that have contributed to making the myth of St Valentine famous:
on 14 February 1400, the High Court of Love was founded in Paris by several poets, an institution inspired by and based entirely on the principles of the literary ideal of courtly love;
In Shakespeare's Hamlet - scene V, Act IV - Ophelia sings 'Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's Day and, just as day breaks, I that am a maiden shall knock at thy window, I will be thy Valentine';
We have various testimonies of lovers who liked to call themselves 'valentines': in the 15th century, Duke Charles of Orleans, imprisoned in the Tower of London after a defeat, wrote to his wife Bonne of Armagnac 'Je suis desja d'amour tanné, ma tres doulce Valentinée', or 'I am already sick with love, my sweetest Valentine';
In Anglo-Saxon countries it is customary to say 'Will you be my Valentine?' to a loved one.
What are the symbols of Valentine's Day?
Valentine's Day has been associated with various symbols over time, but which are the most common and why? Here is our list of Valentine's Day symbols that commonly represent love:
Cupid, or Eros, is the image of the god of love, anciently represented by a boy with wings, a bow and arrows, with which he struck men and gods, making them passionate and enamoured.
The love lock: promise, protection, the padlock has become a symbol of love and increasingly a Valentine's Day gift idea perhaps to be customised with engravings of the lovers' names. Ideal for sealing the memory of a place or a journey, this symbol became particularly famous in the early 2000s: in Rome, specifically, many lovers started to put padlocks on Ponte Milvio in 2006 following the release of the movie 'Ho voglia di te' by Federico Moccia;
Red roses, symbol of the love that conquers all, the most tenacious, which is able to overcome all difficulties. A product, again, of Greek mythology and specifically of the myth of Adonis and Venus: when Adonis died, roses blossomed from Venus' tears.
Chocolate: Victorian England loved the concept of courtly love: at that time, Richard Cadbury and his historic family business invented the first heart-shaped chocolates in boxes that are still prized by collectors today. Thus, chocolates have become a symbol of love.
Phrases to amaze on Valentine's Day.
Before moving on to choosing Valentine's Day gifts, especially if you choose custom Valentine's Day gifts, we suggest you think of something really unique to say or write to your loved one. Here are some tips for writing a Valentine's Day card
First of all, practise. Write a love letter to the person you like, a friend or a lady friend. If you're having a hard time, address it to whomever you want: even to an object - your favourite - or your pet. Prepare a draft, handwrite, let yourself go.
If you need inspiration, take a look at some of the most beautiful love letters ever written. Here is an example of a love letter, written by Frida Kalho and addressed to her beloved Diego Rivera:
"My night constantly seeks you, my body cannot conceive that any road or any geography separates us. My body goes mad with pain of not being able to recognise your figure or your shadow in the middle of the night. My body would like to embrace you in your sleep, my body would like to sleep in the middle of the night and in that darkness be awoken to your embrace.My night screams and tears its veils, my night clashes with its own silence, but your body remains unobtainable.
I miss you very, very much. Your words, your colour.
Soon the sun will rise."
Original Valentine's Day gifts: 3 ideas for couples
Not only flowers and chocolates, on Valentine's Day you can choose between different gifts for him or her. Here are some ideas:
a trip giftbox: in these times even, a small trip can become an adventure! Giving a weekend away is a great idea for a surprise on Valentine's Day! If you don't have the opportunity to travel, try these activities: spas, massages, cooking classes and wine tasting!
Jewellery: one of the most romantic Valentine's Day gestures. If you are looking for a gift idea for her, you cannot go wrong with a piece of jewellery. Choose your Valentine's Day gift carefully: listen, observe what he or she usually wears and try to understand his or her preferences.
a bracelet that speaks of you: it's ideal if you are looking for a custom Valentine's Day gift for him. If you like colourful, versatile bracelets, suitable for every outfit, try Aua's colourful beaded bracelets: they are particularly loved by men, an excellent gift idea for him and also available for her! If you are looking for a gift for a man you don't know well - at least for now! - leave it to him: try the Aua Valentine's Day Gift Card.
Gift for a couple of friends on Valentine's Day
Friends may also deserve a Valentine's Day gift. If you are particularly close to a couple (or if you are looking for a couple’s gift idea for parents!) and you wish to give them a Valentine's Day present, don't hesitate and celebrate their love with a personalised Valentine's Day gift. Here's an idea: think about the places that shaped your friends' love story. Their first meeting, their first dinner out, an important trip or their country of origin: we at AUA had just that in mind when we made beaded bracelets inspired by the colours of Italy's most beautiful cities. Take a look at this list in the official online shop of AUA bracelets and let us know if you find the city of your fondest memories!
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