In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the 'Feast of Lupercalia', which was a time to honour several other Gods and Goddesses.
At that time in Rome the lives of young boys and young girls were strictly separate. However, during the Lupercalia Festival, the boys would each pick a girl's name from a vase. The boys then became partners for the duration of the festival with the girl that they chose. During the festival, the pairs of children danced and played together. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
In AD 496, Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan Lupercalia festival. But he was clever to replace it with a a similar celebration, although one deemed morally suitable. He needed a "lovers" saint to replace the pagan deity Lupercus.
The martyred Bishop Valentine was chosen as the patron saint of the new festival.
Saint Valentine had been beheaded for helping young lovers marry against the wishes of the mad emperor Claudius. Before execution, Valentine himself had fallen in love with his jailer's daughter. He signed his final note to her, "From Your Valentine", a phrase that has lasted through the centuries.
Pope Gelasius did not get everything he wanted. The pagan festival died out, it is true, but he had hoped people would emulate the lives of saints. Instead they latched onto the more romantic aspect of Saint Valentine's religious life. While not immediately as popular as the more passionate pagan festival, eventually the concept of celebrating true love became known as Valentines Day.
Sending flowers on St. Valentine's Day became popular in the 17th century. Roses, representing love, are the blossoms of choice on Valentine's Day. The rose was reputed to be the favourite flower of Venus, and so it was regarded as the flower of love, passion and devotion. One single perfect red rose framed with gypsophila (baby's breath) is referred to by some florists as the preferred choice for giving on St. Valentine's Day.
As mentioned the red rose was the favourite flower of Venus, the goddess of love. Red also stands for strong feelings which is why a red rose is regarded as a flower of love. The main colours of Valentine's Day are red and white, and sometimes also pink, a combination of the first two. Red symbolizes passion, while white means purity. Pink is sometimes the most appropriate colour for lovers - a meeting point between the two extremes of red and white.
The traditional Valentine's Day flower is a long stemmed red rose or a dozen if you're feeling very romantic.It has become accepted that lovers send flowers on Valentine's Day particularly red roses and this has arisen from the works of various poets and playwrights through the centuries.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
On this one day, February 14th, the UK will spend about £25 million on flowers which will be nearly 40% more than an average day. Over 90% of the flowers bought on Valentine's Day will be bought by men and an estimated 8 million red roses will be given in the UK and 50 million worldwide.
In the USA the town of Loveland, Colorado, does a lot of extra post office business around February 14th as lovers get a unique and appropriate postage frank on their letters and cards.
Whether you intend to send just a single red rose, a bouquet of roses or other flowers there is simply no better way of conveying how much you think of someone. Use your local florist for Valentine's Day and make sure you get your order in early.
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