Many of us celebrate it and many of us don’t but do you know the real traditions behind Valentine’s Day? Whether you are sending love to a spouse or partner, letting your Mom know you care about her or wishing a good friend a nice day that simply celebrates your love of friendship, the 14th of February has become synonymous with chocolate and flowers. The chocolate part is enough to scare any dentist but we don’t always just talk about teeth here at Brinkley so today we thought we’d chat about the meaning behind Saint Valentine’s Day.
It seems the history of the day might not be quite so clear-cut however. With its roots in the Christian Church, several different historical versions of the significance of the day have emerged and, perhaps you already knew this – several Saints by the name of Valentine are also said to have existed. But the story that seems to have garnered the most attention over the years is this one: In the third century, Saint Valentine was imprisoned by the Romans for ministering to Christians who, at that time, were persecuted under Roman law. Saint Valentine it’s reported, restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter and later, before being executed, sent her a letter of farewell signed “Your Valentine.”
Whether you believe this, or any of the other version of the legends that have been told, Valentine’s Day gathered steam as a popular holiday in the 14th and 15th centuries in the courts of Kings and Queens in both England and France. By the 18th century it was regularly celebrated by many, even those outside of “court.” By the 1900’s an entire industry was being built around the celebration of love as greeting card companies, chocolatiers and florists all somehow became a part of the tradition of lavishing loved ones with gifts.
Traditions from around the world:
- In Denmark – you might receive a gift of pressed, white flowers called “snowdrops” and these are both given to friends or between two people in love.
- In South Korea – Valentine’s is the first of three days of gift exchanges with the responsibility of the first (on Feb 14th) falling to women to woo their men and the second day (March 14th) for the men to respond. The final day (April 14th) is Black Day, when singles gather and eat dark bowls of black bean paste noodles.
- In Wales – where the day is actually celebrating Saint Dywnwen* it takes place in January and intricately carved “love spoons” are a popular gift. *She is the patron Saint of people in love.
- In England – specifically Norfolk, a character named Jack Valentine leaves gifts for children at the back door of homes or on front porches.
- In Brazil – since Carnival is often taking place in February, a similar day to Valentine’s is officially celebrated in June where the gift giving isn’t just limited to partners in love but to friends and family too.
- And Finally – in some countries, the celebration of love is banned altogether but that’s just sort of sad so we won’t dwell on that here!
There you have it, a brief history of Valentine’s Day. As for what your Dentist might say? Just please be kind, not only to your Valentine but to your teeth, mouth and gums too. If you receive chocolates or other treats and sweets, just remember this – as we always ask you to at the end of each blog – “Don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and brush that smile!”