After a humdrum January, it’s fun to look forward to celebrating something. February is the month of love, hearts, hugs, kisses, and all that lovey-dovey stuff. Every year the 45th day of the Gregorian calendar is honored with copious chocolate, candy, cards, stuffies and endearing gifts. But, are there any historical facts that add relevance or credence to why we continue to praise this sweet day? There are!
Henry VIII, You Big Romantic!
Not too many people get married 6 times in a lifetime, but Henry VIII loved his women. He was a great catch, who wouldn’t want to be hitched to a king. After all, he only beheaded two of his wives. So, what’s the connection between Henry and Valentine’s day? He is the one who declared in 1537, by Royal Charter none the less, that St. Valentine’s Day – named after the patron saint of lovers – shall be celebrated in all of England on February 14th.
There are many symbols that represent Valentine’s Day, with the universal one being the heart. But, the Love Knot is also associated with love and affection. The love knots get their longevity power from the many stories and legends that have circulated over the centuries. Some say its origin is from an Arabic tradition where young ladies sent secret love notes to their lovers, woven into carpets. It’s said that the love knot is the eternal bond between lovers. It has no beginning and no end – they are bound together for all eternity. It reminds one of the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet. Today, many pieces of jewelry are fashioned with a love knot and sales skyrocket during, you got it, Valentine’s Day.
No Nooky in Rome
In 270 A.D, Emperor Claudius II decreed that no one could get married. He feared his army would long for their wives and not stay focused on impending wars. However, a rebel priest named Valentine disregarded this law and married couples in secret… well that is until he got caught. While imprisoned, Valentine fell head over heels for the jailer’s daughter, and before he was executed on February 14, he penned a heartfelt letter to her, signing it ‘From Your Valentine”. To this day many sign their Valentine cards the same.
What’s in a Shape
The very first heart-shaped chocolate box was created by Richard Cadbury in 1861 for Valentine’s Day. Today, heart-shaped boxes are symbolic of everything associated with love. Each year there are almost 40 million heart-shaped boxes of decadent chocolate sold around the globe. Apparently, the shape of a gift box is very important.
Hey Big Spender
Historically, it’s shown that women spend more money on men than the other way around. They’re more generous and giving and will pay men’s bills, buy them clothes or a car and even give them cash. Hey, I watch Judge Judy, it’s a fact. But what about on Valentine’s Day, who’s spend more? Statistics show that we spend over 20 million dollars each year on February 14th, with the average gift costing $250 US. The biggest gift purchased is jewelry with the second being a dinner out. The big spenders are men!
I Dub Thee Castle Valentine
I read several blurbs about either Marie Antoinette’s or King Henry IV of France’s daughter naming a castle Valentines. I could not confirm this information at all. What I did find is a stunning UNESCO heritage site called Castello Del Valentino. It all starts way back in 1564 when the Duke of Savoy Emanuele Filiberto bought an estate called Valentino. In 1619, a young princess named Cristina di France commissioned a redesign. The palace went through lots of transitions including the Napoleonic army taking possession. But in 1850 it became the property of the state of Turin and its grounds are a beautiful botanical garden for all to enjoy.