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The Origins of Valentine's Day

Normally, I like to talk about gemstone and jewelry specific topics, but since the tradition of giving jewelry is part of our modern-day Valentine’s Day celebration, I thought it would be interesting! As a kid, Valentine’s Day was an exciting day! You and your classmates walked around the desks and dropped off Valentine’s Day cards and notes to each other. You got cards from everyone including those you didn’t know so well. Some people brought candy and treats to add to the mix. Learning was paused as we read our notes and ate our goodies! As an adult, it is a mixed bag with some enjoying the day and others disliking it. I have heard “it’s just a Hallmark gimmick” or “I celebrate the one I love all year long, not just on one specific day.” (But, do you really?? I’ll come back to that!)

As with any of our celebrations throughout the year, Valentine’s Day has both pagan and Christian origins. The Roman festival of Lupercalia was held in mid-February to celebrate the coming of spring and fertility. Being an agriculture society, Spring was an important time to the people of the ancient world. The festival celebrated fertility by a lottery system that paired off women and men together. Pope Galasius I replaced the festival in the 5th century with St. Valentine’s Day. Scholars cannot definitively ascribe which Christian martyr is being honored because there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine at the time. Was it the jailed martyr who signed his letters “from your Valentine?” Was it the martyr who secretly married couples so that the husbands didn’t have to go to war? Either way, by the 14th century, St. Valentine’s Day became a day associated with romance! Shakespeare and Chaucer popularized Valentines’ Day throughout Britain and Europe by writing of romance, and hand written notes, or Valentines, were given. The first commercially printed Valentines cards were printed in the 1700’s with the United States printing their Valentines by the mid 1800’s. Hallmark began mass producing Valentine’ Day cards in 1913.

The symbols of Valentine’s Day are Cupid, who is the Roman god of love, hearts, which is the traditional seat of love, and birds, which were thought to begin their mating season in February. Flowers, chocolates, and jewelry are the traditional gifts given, but it is the gift of jewelry alone that stands the test of time! Chocolates are eaten and flowers die, but jewelry is worn every day for years to come.

I know we like to think we take time to honor the one we love every day, but we don’t because, well, life gets in the way! Work, cleaning, animal care, child care, school, volunteering, or the pandemic make life a little hectic even though those are all good things (except for the pandemic!). A couple can give themselves permission on two days a year, their anniversary and Valentine’s Day, to honor their love and commitment to each other. What a beautiful and refreshing thing to do! If you are not a couple, an individual has two designated days to honor their presence in the world, their birthday and Valentine’s Day. Again, what a beautiful and refreshing thing to do in the midst of life! I encourage you to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but a meaningful gift can go a long way!

I would love to help you with your special purchase or custom design! Angela Cisneros Jewelry Concierge brings back the joy and confidence of jewelry shopping, so that you can celebrate with ease! My by-appointment approach means:

  • One-on-one appointments (personal attention and no crowds!)

  • Discretion and privacy (surprises remain surprises!)

  • Expert help from a Graduate Gemologist with 23 years of experience (yep, that’s me!)

Book your FREE appointment with me today!

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