But do you know the origins of this day and which other holiday it is overriding?
The name comes from Saint Valentine, who was actually a martyr. Back in the days in Rome, when Claudius The Cruel governed, he believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. This in turn was the death sentence for him and he was put in jail and later-on executed. Valentine wrote his last letter to a woman out of his jail cell and it read “From Your Valentine” in the address line.
However, there seems to be an inconsistency in the identification of the Saint and the fact that this holiday was not even celebrated until the late Tudor Regime days - which was a good 1,000 plus years after he died.
Some scholars even believe that Valentine’s Day was put in place to supersede and override an ancient Roman holiday. Lupercalia was a festival observed in Ancient Rome. It was traditionally celebrated on February 15th and meant to purify, promoting health and fertility. This goes hand in hand with the Roman “Februalia” - which we discussed in the previous newsletter and how it stands for purification and atonement.
Indeed, it was not until the 1500s, when King Henry VIII (the last male Tudor King) decided to turn this day into a holiday. He was then married to Jane, his third wife, and for some reason it turned into a holiday from then on. The tradition was to send roses and love letters. I guess it has survived until these days.
It is ironic how after all these years and different partnerships and relationships that I've experienced, the first memory that comes to mind when thinking about this day is still my childhood. Waking up on a school day early in the morning, overtired. Walking downstairs into our kitchen for breakfast and seeing the chocolate heart and pralines, which my mother had carefully placed on each of mine and my sibling's placemats. And feeling the joy of it not being a "regular" day but that it can also be seen as a family day and that we are loved. This is also when I knew that love can be expressed in many different forms and that there are truly no limits to how one expresses that. Indeed, for the first few years of early adulthood, I was almost confused how others around me were making this day all about their love towards their partner and not anyone else. For me, something was always missing in that equation.
While this day may seem to be about romance and over-commercialized displays of love, the origins in and of itself are more pure. We can make this day all about self-love, too. Indeed, I like to dedicate the entire month of February to that, as I see it as the last month of hibernation before a new cycle begins. Enjoy today and every day!
~Laura from Shamanic Self is a certified Shamanic Healer and Practitioner. She offers online courses and digital products that advance you on your spiritual journey.
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