Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Saint Valentine's day fast approaches

Mariela Hearts
First, just a quick update: the winter giveaway is over and was a great success, with 83 entries. The winner has been informed.
Next up is St. Valentine's Day. No doubt some of you are wondering where the tradition of giving St. Valentine gifts comes from and who was this St. Valentine that we celebrate as the "patron saint of lovers."
The trouble is that there was not one but actually fourteen saints called Valentine - or Valentinius to use the Latin form! And guess how many of these were associated with romantic love? Sorry to disappoint the romantics out there, but the answer is a big fat ZERO. Not even one of them had anything to do with romance! 
So who were they? And why were they canonised? Well the answer is that like most saints - or at least the early ones - they were Christian martyrs. But which of them was the one we associate with the 14th of February? Again, sorry to disappoint, but the answer is three of them.
But how did Christian martyrs come to be associated with romantic love? It's hard to say exactly, but the process was probably a gradual one. In Christian tradition, marriage is a sacrament which symbolises God's (and Jesus') love for humankind. And there were legends and myths about early Christians performing secret marriage ceremonies for low-ranking Roman soldiers who were allegedly not allowed to marry.
The problem is that this is a myth. Roman soldiers of all ranks were allowed to marry. Indeed being pagans they were allowed more than one wife. Ironically it was in England much later - in the nineteenth century - that the lowest-ranking soldiers in the army were not allowed to marry. Hence the saying: "Officers and their ladies, non-coms and their wives, privates and their women..."
The earliest written record of any association of St. Valentine's Day with romance, dates back to the high middle ages when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem called the Parliament of Foules about the anniversary of the engagement of England's King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. The poem associates the betrothal with "St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."
Because of Chaucer's formidable stature as the leading English writer - and because February 14 had been designated as "St. Valentine's Day" by the prevailing Roman Catholic Church - that day henceforth came to be accepted as the day that must be associated with romantic love and lovers. That view was reinforced by Shakespeare 220 years later in Hamlet.
We don't know too much about how this manifested itself in Stuart times, let alone the austere republican Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell. Even the role of Valentine's Day in the early decades of the Hanoverian dynasty remain obscure. But by the late eighteenth century and the reign of George the Third, young men were sending handwritten cards to their paramours as a matter of course. And because this was an era of prosperity and industry, printed Valentine cards began to appear. This was soon followed by the giving of romantic presents such as flowers. Then in the nineteenth century - when those three great quaker entrepreneurs Henry Isaac Rowntree, John Cadbury and Joseph Fry set up their chocolate factories -  another item became popular as a Valentine's Day gift.

Jamain Lilcac
Today, in the great restaurant age, candle-lit dinners are popular. And for those who can afford it, jewellery is the ultimate romantic gift.
But precious jewellery is not within everyone's price range. And so the Magnetic Products Store is here to offer an alternative: magnetic jewellery. And because in this egalitarian age, women can now buy presents for men, this range includes bracelets for men, sports magnets and the best bracelets around.
And in honour of St. Valentine's Day, they are doing a major promotion.

But hurry up. Remember St. Valentine's Day is only four days away and you want to allow enough time for the item(s) you order to reach you.

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