Happy Valentine’s Day, Five Little Known Facts About Valentine’s DayFeb 14, 2023
Did you know Cupid was once a Greek god?
Did you know there may have been two different men credited as being St. Valentine?
Did you know there’s a Pagan Festival associated with Valentine’s?
Where did the phrase, ‘Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve’ come from?
Have you ever sent a ‘Vinegar Valentine’?
Have you ever received one?
Five little known facts about Valentine’s Day
Have you ever wondered how a chubby baby with wings, wielding a bow and arrow became a symbol of love for Valentine’s Day?
Cupid was once known as a hunk of a Greek God named Eros. While accounts of his lineage vary, most commonly, Eros is thought to be the son of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite and the god of war, Ares. Aphrodite dubbed him ‘the god of love’. Instead, he was a blend of both his parents.
Eros was mischievous and struck at the hearts of gods and mortals alike, messing with their emotions. Instead of shooting couples with arrows of love, he used one arrow filled with gold to arouse love and desire and filled the other with lead to ignite loathing and disgust.
As stories of his ‘childish bad boy’ behavior circulated, Roman authors renamed Eros Cupid. His impish, childlike behavior was not befitting of the hot bod god that he was, so he was recast into the baby Cupid we know today.
2. St. Valentine
The St. Valentine who is known as the real person died around 270 A.D. This is the Saint recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. His identity was questioned by Pope Gelasius I, in 496 A.D.
Another account from the 1400s describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded near Rome by the emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed. Yet another account claims Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome.
Since these stories were so similar and there were no good records, many believed them to be the same person.
With all the confusion surrounding St. Valentine's true identity, the Catholic Church discontinued liturgical veneration of him in 1969, however, his name remains on its list of officially recognized saints.
Whoever St. Valentine was, this day has become a heartfelt holiday that celebrates Love.
3. Valentine’s Day and a Blood Pagan Festival
As is in many cases, many historians trace the origins of Valentine’s Day back to the Christian effort to replace the pagan fertility festival that dates back as the 6th century B.C.
The festival was known as Lupercalia. Roman priests would sacrifice goats or dogs, then used their blood-soaked hides to slap women with as a fertility blessing. Then, as the legend tells, the women would put their names in an urn for a drawing to be paired with a man for a year to produce a baby.
4. Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve
During the Middle Ages, Roman’s had a festival honoring Juno, the ancient Roman goddess, the protector, and special counselor of the state. The men would draw the names of women who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year (this seems to be a theme). Then, during the festivities the man wore the name of the woman on his sleeve to show their bond.
5. Vinegar Valentines
While Valentine’s Day can be traced to ancient Rome, it’s the Victorians who originally put a romantic spin on the holiday. Before that, it was more about fertility.
On Valentine’s Day, lovers exchanged elaborate lace-trimmed cards expressing their undying love and devotion with sentiments and poems.
To fend off unwanted suitors, there was a stinging alternative known as “Vinegar Valentines”, also called ‘Penny Dreadfuls.”
These cards, were the antithesis of customary valentines, often comically insulting. Sediments would read, “To My Valentine, ‘Tis a lemon that I hand you and bid you now ‘skidoo,’ Because I love another—there is no chance for you,”
I hope you found this as fun and interesting as I have.
Here’s to hoping you don’t get a Vinegar Valentines.
Again, Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
SOURCES: The History Channel and Smithsonian
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