It seems that Valentine's Day is a modern commercial juggernaut or another day of pink hearts and declarations of love. However, it is coeval with Christmas, and has changed beyond recognition in 2 000 years of existence.
Nudity and Romans
The real story of the holiday begins in ancient Rome, when people wore togas and sacrificed animals for the gods. It is believed that it originates from the great spring festival of fertility — Lupercalia. On this day, men ran naked around the Palatine hill, slapping women's buttocks with leather belts. The priests claimed that this ritual will make both women and lands fertile again.
The titular of Saint Valentine also appeared in Roman times. It is said that Valentine was a priest who was martyred for marrying Christian couples at a time when religion was forbidden. Another legend says that he was executed for trying to convert the Emperor Claudius himself to Christianity.
When Europe adopted Christianity, the priests actively sought a replacement for the apparently pagan Lupercalia. At the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I declared the date of this festival to be the feast of Saint Valentine, hoping to displace the usual pagan rite.
The middle ages were gaining momentum, and the idea of chivalry became very popular among the nobility. At the same time, Valentine's day gained fame as the most romantic day of the year. The English and French believed that this date marked the beginning of the mating season of birds. The fact that most birds form monogamous pairbonds of exemplary fidelity, only added a special aura to the holiday of love.
Flowers, postcards and kisses
The familiar attributes of St. Valentine appeared only in the 17th century, when every February 14, lovers exchanged gifts. Over a hundred years, the tradition has taken root in all social classes, and by 1900 the usual printed Valentine cards with chubby playful cherubs were on sale everywhere.
Flowers have always been the best way to express love, and therefore quickly became essential part of Valentine's Day and a bouquet of scarlet roses has almost become a symbol of Valentine's Day. Why did this happen? During the Victorian era, the most popular love declaration was a gift of scarlet rose, as a symbol of deep and passionate love. Gradually, the language of flowers was forgotten, but the tradition of giving red roses still remains with us.