Saint Valentine’s Day, better known simply as, Valentine’s Day – is the Feast of Saint Valentinus, a third-century Roman saint associated with the High Middle Ages who died on the 14th of February in North Rome. Expectedly then, this is also why this celebration commemorates each year on this day. The name itself derives from the word valens – meaning worthy, strong and powerful and was popularized during the Late Antiquity.
“The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” As Gelasius implies, nothing was yet known to him about his life”. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine]
Although not much is known about this particular saint, it is widely speculated through a hagiographical account that Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry and legends attest that during his imprisonment he healed the daughter of his jailer and even perhaps sent her a letter of farewell signed, “Your Valentine”.
During the High Middle Ages when the day was first established in Valentine’s honour, it was initially established with the idea of romantic love, during which the tradition of courtly love was blossoming. Much of this was based on the works of Chaucer, who was the first to write of romantic love in relation to Valentine’s Day. This is most notably found in his poem entitled, Parlement of Foules in which he writes,
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”. [“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]
Over time, throughout the 18th and 19th century this celebration evolved into one in which lovers could express their love for each other through presents and offerings. Today, this continues to be the case as many symbols including hearts, doves, greeting cards, flowers and chocolates are given as way of commemorating this time honoured tradition.
Italy, a country famous for l’amore, continues to acknowledge this festive day. In fact, the country celebrates all year long by offering various celebrations and organizing events for lovers and lovers of love. In Florence, one can take advantage of the romantic Boat Tour that Florencetown offers, and is available during the warmer months between May to September.
If you’re looking for something particular to do on the actual day Saint Valentine is observed, the Uffizi is holding a specially arranged Love Themed Tour in which tourists can learn about some of the most famous artwork and artists whose theme is placed in – you guessed it, love. For more information, click here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/Uffizi-Gallery/love-themed-tour/prweb11510934.htm
…and whatever you end up doing, while in the city of Florence, take advantage to be inspired as so many other greats of the past have been not only by history and culture, but through the art and beauty of love. Now that’s amore!
By: Tiffany Tobias