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Valentine's Day - Pressed snowdrops, carved wooden spoons and poetry readings?

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Will you be my Valentine…

To my valentine

With Valentine’s Day only 4 weeks away, the supermarket shelves are crammed full with cards of all shapes and sizes, scrumptious chocolates and cute teddy bears for you to give your loved one on this the most Romantic day of the year – or so we are told!

But what is the true meaning of Valentines? Where did it all begin and why?

Well according to the source of all modern knowledge, the Internet, stories of its origins vary, but in the main they agree Saint Valentine was a third century martyr, executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14th and his martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with a celebration day on this date.

Later in the 5th Century, Pope Gelasius I combined this feast day with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia in an effort to drive out pagan rituals, which in turn cemented the association between Valentine’s day and love.

Lady with roses

Valentine card and chocolate suppliers however, may have Geoffrey Chaucer to thank for the modern-day tradition that helps warm up this coldest month of the year. As it was during the late 1300s, in the writings of Chaucer,the first clear references were made to a tradition relating St Valentine's Day to romantic love. With both Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticising about it in their works, Valentines gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe with handmade paper cards becoming popular in the Middle Ages.

Whatever story you believe, love is a global phenomenon and Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world in some fascinating and different ways. It appears not everyone turns to cards and heart-shaped chocolates to declare their undying love.

Around the world

In Denmark, although Valentine’s Day is a relatively new tradition, the country has embraced February 14th with a Danish twist and rather than roses, friends and sweethearts exchange pressed snowdrops.

Back in old England, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, women used to place five bay leaves on their pillows — one at each corner and one in the centre — to bring dreams of their future husbands. Alternatively, they would wet bay leaves with rosewater and place them across their pillows.

The Welsh, however, choose to celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers instead, on January 25th with the giving of a wooden love spoon, carved by the men with patterns and symbols, each signifying a different meaning.

Originally, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival, when young lovers would gather outside in gardens to enjoy poetry readings and music before taking a stroll with their beloved.

Poetry

With a reputation for being one of the romantic nations, it is no surprise the French have long celebrated Valentine’s Day as a day for lovers. In fact, it has been said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France in 1415, when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Further afield South Africa, like many, celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and other tokens of love. It is also traditional for women to pin the names of their love interest on their sleeves - I don’t think I could ever be that brave!!

Red Velvet Cake - Delicious

Well one things for sure there can never be enough love in the world or indeed excuses for spoiling family, friends and loved ones.

This year, why not host a Valentine’s themed vintage afternoon tea party and invite everyone to join you to indulge in a less than saintly serving of red velvet cupcakes, passion fruit sponge and strawberry scones topped off with luscious helpings or rose petal jam and cream, accompanied by copious amounts of rose scented or chocolate flake tea. For that extra special touch add a bottle of pink fizz – who says tea cups are only for drinking tea!

Whatever your plans, have a lovely Valentines, we love you!

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