Valentine's Day: When birds begin to pair...
DURING the Middle Ages in England and France, it was popularly believed that birds started to look for a mate from mid-February. Since Valentine's Day already was being celebrated around this time, people began to take this as a sign that Valentine's Day should be celebrated as the day of love and romance. Lovers especially took to this idea by exchanging love notes and simple gifts like flowers.
Other origin tales
Another origin story is traced to ancient Rome where 15 February was celebrated as the festival of Lupercalia dedicated to Lupercus (Roman god of shepherds), sometimes identified with Faunus (Roman god of agriculture, equivalent to Greek god Pan). It also celebrated the legendary founders of Rome - Romulus and Remus.
Yet another Roman tradition links 14 February to Juno, wife of Jupiter (Greek equivalent is Zeus) who was the head of the Roman gods and goddesses. Juno (Greek equivalent is Hera) was also regarded as the goddess of women and marriage.
Some Valentine's Day trivia
- Valentine's Day is celebrated in the USA, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. Indeed, due to the influence of Western civilisation, the festival is marked by young couples in many countries.
- Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages but written Valentine greetings only started in the 15th century.
- The oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum.
- Approximately 85 percent of all Valentines are purchased by women.
- Americans probably began exchanging hand-made Valentines in the early 1700s.
- "Mother of the Valentine" Esther A. Howland created in the 1840s the first commercial Valentine greeting - elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".