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Valentine's Day

Updated on February 11, 2013
Valentine's Day Rainbow Heart
Valentine's Day Rainbow Heart | Source

A Traditional Look at Valentine's Day

Saint Valentine, was a priest in 269 AD, he was a devout advocate for those who were in love. He was executed for the sake of love by continuing to marry couples during a time of prohibition on marriage, engagement and all that was saddled with the concept of falling in love. Claudius, the emperor at the time, was power hunger and desired to build a large army during his reign. No volunteers joined, so prohibition on marriage was laid in place in an attempt to squelch the peoples devotion to one another and drive the men to join his military.

Valentine in all of his priestly manner could not accept the ban on marriage, the very idea made him secretly seek to continue marring couples who wished to be joined together at any cost. In his zeal to remain loyal to love, Valentine underestimated the spies within Claudius's court and was caught red-handed marring a young Roman couple at a secret location. Valentine was placed in a Roman prison where he waited to be put to death on February 14Th, 269 AD. His crime? The promotion of marriage in a time of forbidden love. To this day, and over the many centuries since, we celebrate the day of love on the date of Saint Valentine's death.

Along with the celebration of love comes some very unusual and traditional tokens of action set in place surrounding Valentine's Day. The 5 top traditions found to have gone back in time the farthest may not be practiced in full knowledge this century, but much of what we practice around love and marriage and the concept of devotion can be found in the earliest Valentines Day traditions on record.

A Little Trivia Quiz for the Valentine Adventurer

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1). Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve For Valentine's Day

Who hasn't heard the term, "She wears her heart on her sleeve"? This long used statement has been derived from a middle ages act regarding love and Valentine's Day. A celebration took place where young men would choose a piece of folded paper from a box. Written on this paper would be the name of an unwed girl or woman from the village, who would be considered the mans choice. This woman would be the mans Valentine for a full week (the estimated time of Saint Valentines incarceration before being put to death). To make it clear to all in the village who had been chosen by who, the young men would pin the paper to their shirt sleeve for all to see the name of their lovely Valentine. In modern times, this Valentines tradition has been translated down to the simple term, "wearing one's heart on their sleeve" which in today's understanding relates that a person shows their emotions very easily for everyone to see.

The idea of wearing someones name on your sleeve can also be attributed to modern day tattooing of your lovers name into your skin.

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2). A Prolific Prediction on Valentine's Day

It is said that having children is at the core of love. One must be prolific in sustaining the human race. In the time of Saint Valentine, this was never more true. The average human lifespan was shortened by disease, harsh elements and child birth. For these reasons the human race literally raced through the stages of living. If you only have 38 years to live, you're considered middle aged at 14. To manage reproduction in a positive manner and as a much needed part of their short young lives, finding a way to measure your future quickly and simply was vital.

Science had not yet made its way into the population to any real degree, so nature truly was the guide to all things social and scholarly. In an attempt to have some sort of future awareness—family planning if you will—the elderly would provide a guide for the young. A common tradition among the people was to determine the size of the family you would need to be prepared to support and raise with your one love. Not only would this be motivational from the perspective of procreation, but it encouraged the young women to desire pregnancy and not fear the high probability of dying during birth. The practice was held in high praise and the young couples were anxious to start families.This was determined by the action of cutting an apple in half and counting the seeds that lay inside. The number of seeds would correlate to the number of children a couple would need to prepare for.



3). A Stylish Gift to Wear or Not to Wear on Valentine's Day

In the century following Saint Valentine's execution, a tradition of gift giving was derived to help suitors who may be too shy to speak to the one they love. The shy young lover would make an offer of a piece of lovely clothing to the girl of his dreams without saying a word or showing his face. Should the woman of this mans desire accept the gift and wear it in public, the proposal of marriage was expected to take place. If she did not wear the gift of clothing and returned it by leaving it on the front stoop, then the young man's request was denied; but he saved face by not disclosing his identity to the villagers. Today this gift of clothing has long revised its meaning. If a suitor brings a gift of clothing—lingerie in today's modern society—it generally means that the man is seeking sexual favors. But, the actions of the woman still dictate the answer to the suitors request. Should she decide to keep the clothes and wear them, the suiter is most likely in for a superb night of romance. However if he finds the gift returned and cut into a hundred pieces, she probably has declined the invitation.

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4). The Width of a Valintine's Day Chair

Each of us has at some point sat upon or had a love seat in our home. This chair was originally designed to accommodate the broad girth of a woman's full-skirted dress. In the early ages of design, the love seat or courting seat became a dual sectioned piece of furniture making the courting couples advancements a tad more restrained. More often then not this seat was created in an "S" shape. This provided a young couple the opportunity to sit closely together, yet protected the young woman's virtue by maintaining a barrier between the two. The need for such a chair—other than for the sake of design—has become obsolete for the most part. In these modern times we have prophylactic barriers and prescribed pills to prevent a woman's virtue from becoming scorned; pharmaceutical science has become our modern century courting chair.

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Spoon Carving Video



5). Unlocking the Love in Your Valetine's Heart

In Wales, a tradition has stood long and true over the ages when it comes to Valentine's Day—spoon carving. The Wales people feel that spoon carving is the best and most romantic way to a Wales woman's Valentine's Day heart. Each February 14Th a spoon is delivered to a wanting Wales woman. A potential lover carves particular shapes and design into a hand made spoon. The decorations on these Valentine's Day spoons include keys, hearts, and keyholes. The inference is that the person receiving the gift is the only one who has the "key" to "unlock" the "heart" of the carver. All over the world (wherever Valentine's Day is celebrated) jewelery is gifted in the form of gold keys and hearts to support the idea and legitimacy of this Valentine's Day Wales tradition. Should you receive a golden key or heart gift this Valentin's Day, you have the giver to thank for the gift, but the Wales people to thank for the tradition!

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