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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

Have you ever wondered how this special day came about? To me it means sending a special something to someone to tell them you care or love them - a flower, a small gift, a card, a message or love letter with the accompanying sentiment coming from deep in your heart. But was it always like this?

No. The most popular version of the origins of Valentine’s Day comes from ancient Roman times. The church wanted their people to convert from paganism to Christianity. They needed a suitable patron to replace the pagan god and his love festival, and they discovered the story of Valentine.

Around 270 BC, Emperor Claudius needed soldiers for his army but discovered men in love and married men weren’t keen to join up and fight so he cancelled all marriages and engagements. As you would expect, this didn’t go down well with his soldiers.

Valentine, a Roman soldier and priest, disagreed with the decree and married couples in secret. When Claudius found out he threw Valentine in prison. The prison guard’s blind daughter used to keep him company as he awaited his death sentence. Of course, they fell in love (his love eventually cured her blindness) and on the day of Valentine’s death – February 14th – he left her a message and signed it, “From Your Valentine”.

The church decided to use this as a commemorative holiday to replace the pagan love festival and now people all over the world use it as a day to show affection to the one they love.

Traditions abound on Valentine’s Day. Have a look at some of the things people did or believed about this day in the past.
  • In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
  • In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"
  • Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.
  • Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry. As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.
  • Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.
If you’re looking for a special way to celebrate Valentine’s Day why not watch a classic movie like Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Roman Holiday, From Here to Eternity, An Affair to Remember or Romeo and Juliette.

Or how about something with a little history, adventure and romance – Doctor Zhivargo, Out of Africa, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Australia.

Maybe, if you’re like me, you’re into the quirky, offbeat romances like The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Casanova, Kate & Leopold or Paperback Hero (coincidently, both these movies star Hugh Jackman!!!).

To finish I’d like to share a beautiful quote from Helen Keller - The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

However you celebrate it, may your Valentine’s Day be a good one!

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