Valentine’s Day is a day which, like many other annual celebrations, has evolved over the years. Its roots lie in the Roman festival of Lupercalia – a fertility celebration which traditionally fell on February 15th each year. Pope Gelasius I, however, overhauled the pagan festival in 496 as a Christian festival and changed the date to February 14th – naming it St. Valentine’s Day.

Who was St. Valentine?

It’s unclear which St. Valentine Pope Gelasius I wanted to honour, as there had purportedly been three saints by that name. But the great coincidence is that all three St. Valentines were said to have been martyred on February 14.

The rumour which is said to hold the greatest favour with lovers across the world is that of St. Valentine who continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies for young men after Roman emperor Claudius II prohibited young men from marriage – asking that they instead become soldiers. Valentine was subsequently apprehended and put to death.

The second legend places Valentine in jail and, in a scene reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, in love with his jailer’s daughter. It is said that his last communication before death was a letter to his star-crossed lover, signed ‘from your Valentine’.

But the most plausible Valentine’s story, and most in line with the ideals of the Catholic Church, seems to be centred not in Valentine’s passionate love (eros), but his Christian love (agape), as he was said to have been martyred for refusing to renounce his religion.

In 1969 the Catholic Church updated their liturgical calendar and removed feast days whose origins were questionable, which meant St. Valentine was, once more, killed off – although in a more abstract fashion.

The day that keeps on giving

Although removed from the liturgical calendar, this has not scrapped the day of amorous pursuits from the calendars of people worldwide.

And in South Africa in particular, our location and climate has made us one of the greatest romantic destinations for people all over the world. It is not only a day of love, but also a day which garners great income for the South African tourism and entertainment industries.

Of course, South African festivities include booking a table at local restaurants like Ocean Basket or Spur. Those with a bit more buck for their budget will probably opt for a more high-class candlelit endeavour or a picnic in the park with local delicacies like koeksisters, JC Le Roux and biltong. And no one can forget red roses, Lindt chocolates and cards from secret admirers. If you don’t want to deliver it yourself, you’re sure that NetFlorist can do it for you.

We hope you’ve already got some magic planned for this special day, whether you’re celebrating the love with your husband, girlfriend, dog, cat, children or at church – it really makes no difference, as long as you spread the love and spread the spirit of warmth and giving.

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