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Valentine’s Day Celebrations – Symbols and Myths

Before we visit myths behind various Valentine’s Day symbols, let us briefly appreciate one of the classical poems of Valentine’s Day − after all Valentine’s Day is all about expressing love and romance, right?

“The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

Thou art my love and I am thine;

I drew thee to my Valentine:

The lot was cast and then I drew,

And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

— Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784)

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There you go! You got your teaser. So, Let your creativity roll. Get those Valentine’s pickup lines flowing. 

The next sections shed some light both on the origin of Valentine’s Day celebrations and the symbolization of love and romance on this day.

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The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries of the world. Although shrouded with mystery the origin of Valentine’s Day finds its roots in the early events aimed at honoring numerous Christian martyrs who went by the name Valentine. The famous one of such martyrs is Valentine of Rome. Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints in 496. Legend has it that Saint Valentine of Rome was martyred for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry. Marriage was forbidden during this era because single, young men were valuable for the military.

According to legend, while in prison Saint Valentine saw the daughter of his jailor, and fell in love with her. Before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

Over the years honoring of martyrs got coupled with other festivities. Legend has it that the 14th of February as we know it today corresponded directly to the mating season of birds, including lovebirds. Throughout history, we have always learned valuable lessons from nature and it appears being romantic on this day (February 14th) is just another one of them. So, don’t delay. Find your lovebird (partner) and have a Happy Valentine’s Day together!

Valentine’s Day Symbols

 Valentine’s Day is symbolized in many ways. Here are just some of the popular ones.

The heart

 Traditionally, it was believed that the heart pumped faster when one was angry, or in love and that it was the center of emotions. This view is strongly held even today, even though it has been scientifically proven that it is actually the brain that is in charge of emotions and that the function of the heart is mainly for blood circulation in the body.

Hence, the red heard is use during Valentine’s to express affection and love, especially romantic love. Giving someone a heart is seen as handing over one’s existence to someone. The “wounded heart”, or heart symbol “broken” in two or more pieces symbolizes the vulnerability and negative feelings associated with love in ongoing relationships.

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The winged Cupid

A winged and mischievous little angel called Cupid is one of the very famous Valentine’s Day Symbols. The symbol traces its origin from the Roman mythology where Cupid has been described as the son of Venus – the Goddess of Love. It is believed that Cupid had a bow with a quiver of arrows and anyone hit by Cupid’s arrow did not die but fell in love. According to a myth, it was Cupid’s mother Venus who used to send him on such errands. In Greek mythology, Cupid is known by the name of Eros and as the son of Aphrodite – the Greek Goddess of Love.

For those who woke up this morning next to their loved ones the story even gets better. In certain mythologies, it is said that anyone shot with a Cupid’s arrow falls in love with the first person he/she sees. It is also said that Cupid’s arrow was invisible to his victims so that they would not be aware that they were shot until they fell in love. But fear not, if you may not have woken up this morning next to your loved one, all you need to do is underline, bold, or italicized only the word “mythologies” above. That way, it will stay a myth and you will be fine.

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Doves (and lovebirds) 

Doves (shown in pairs symbolizing lovebirds) are an endearing and prominent Valentine’s Day symbols. The symbol traces its origin from a belief in the olden times that birds found their mate on February 14. The reason, why doves and lovebirds are considered strongly as a symbol of Valentine’s Day is that while doves signify purity, innocence and humbleness, the picture of lovebirds conjures up the vision of couple in love. Lovebirds are part of the parrot family. These birds only have a single partner throughout their lives. They always stay close to their partners and exhibit signs of depression when their partner is not present.

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Saint Valentine’s Key 

In Europe, lovers hand each other the “Saint Valentine’s Key” as a romantic gesture and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart.

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Summary

The symbols seen during Valentine’s Day celebrations are constantly evolving. For example, one might even consider some of the items given as usual Valentine’s gifts, such as teddy bears, chocolate and red roses as part of Valentine’s day symbols. However, at present, we have just restricted ourselves to some of the symbols involving myths and legends of Valentine’s day.

 

By Sylvanus Job on February 14, 2019

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