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St Valentine's day is coming

Monday, 8 February 2016

Well we all know that St. Valentine's Day is the day when people profess their love for one another, marked by the giving of gifts and presents. But we know very little about St. Valentine? Who was this man who became the patron saint of lovers?

The truth of the matter is that very little is known about him. There were several early Christian martyrs called Valentine or Valentinus, although none of them were associated with romantic love in their lifetimes. The name did not appear in the early list of Roman martyrs compiled in the year 354. But it did appear in a later work, compiled gradually between 460 and 544.

The Feast of St.Valentine, on the 14th of February, was established by Pope Gelasius I. But even Gelasius knew nothing of Valentine, and included him in the category of those "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God."

In other words, we don't actually know what Valentine did or when he did it. In fact there are at least three different saints - all called Valentinus who are associated with February 14. One was a priest, another was a bishop, while the third was apparently a missionary in Africa about whom virtually nothing is known. And there are  further eleven St Valentine's who are not specifically associated with that date.

But all of these Valentines were seen as martyrs for their faith, and February 14 was a somewhat arbitrary. So why then do we celebrate St. Valentine's Day as the day for lovers?

Well it all started with Geoffrey Chaucer (author of the Canterbury Tales), writing in the 14th century. This was the High Middle Ages, characterized by the tradition of "courtly love" which is in some ways a forerunner to our modern concept of romance. (Although the term "courtly love" wasn't popularized until the 19th century, by Gaston Paris.) Chaucer wrote a poem called The Parliament of Foules in which he wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whaneuery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Volantynys was, of course, Valentine's and make was mate. Remember that in Chaucer's day, they didn't have spell-checkers!

Later on, Shakespeare's Hamlet gave Ophelia the words:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, 
and donn'd his clothes,
And 
dupp'd the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

This tradition then continued through John Donne and others right up until the present day. And so in the modern era, St. Valentine's day has become a day when people profess their love - or re-affirm it. In the western tradition, this is done, like at Christmas and on birthdays, with cards and gifts. And needless to say, the gifts should be customised to the concept of romance: perfume, flowers, candle-lit dinners and jewellery. Okay the perfume and flowers are what the man gives the woman  - and if he isn't a cheapskate, he should also pay for the restaurant.

But jewellery can be given by either party to the other. (And of course in this day and age, there are also same-gender couples!) So jewellery makes for a fine gift. And as magnets are known to attract each other, then what could make a better present than magnetic jewellery.

So in honour of St. Valentine's Day, Magnetic Therapy Bracelets is doing a special promotion which you might like to check out. I am sure that you will find something you like there, to give your partner and show them how much you love them.