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FRISKY FRIDAY FACTS: Valentine Traditions – WHY Do We Do These Things?

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Valentines Day…  So, WHY do we associate these things with love:  St. Valentine, Cupid and… Lupercalia?

By:  Monica Green – The Knot  Read the full article HERE.

1. Chocolates were considered precious in Mayan and Aztec cultures

Well, chocolate is thought of as an aphrodisiac.  It contains an endorphin called phenylethylamine; and high levels of it, in the brain, are linked to falling in love.  The Mayans believed chocolate contained precious spiritual and healing properties – so they called it “the food of the gods.”  After he conquered the Mayan people, Aztec King Montezuma was reportedly known to drink 50 cups of cocoa a day, plus one more, when he was going to meet a lady friend.  But, because of its stimulating effects, Aztec women were said to have been forbidden to drink it themselves.  Oh jeez.

2. King Charles of Sweden popularized roses as symbols of love in the early 1700s

February 14 is like Black Friday for florists, with Valentine’s Day ranked as the top holiday for sending flowers (second only to Christmas and Chanukah, in dollars spent).  But why are flowers associated with love?  In the early 1700’s, King Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical art known as the language of flowers, or floriography, to Europe from its roots in ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Chinese culture.  By the 1800’s, most Victorian homes contained floral dictionaries, which listed the symbolic meanings of different flowers – to convey a wide variety of hidden messages.  As symbols of romantic love, roses became linked with Valentine’s Day.

3. Valentine’s Day cards are based on pagan traditions and rituals – during the feast of Lupercalia

Despite what most of us believe we know, Valentine’s Day originally originated, at least in part, from pagan customs involving animal sacrifice and fertility rituals.  It all started with some pretty down-and-dirty tactics, from the Roman era…  with men drawing names of women, or (later) names of saints, and then responding.  But it became a tradition of writing actual Valentine notes, for much of the world, about the time the printing press was invented…  after 1400.   Check out the full article, for the crazy details about Lupercalia, which the Romans celebrated from February 13th to 15th, HERE.

4. The colors pink, red and white have ties to St. Valentine and the Catholic Church

The color connected to Saint Valentine – to one of the at least three St. Valentines (who are officially recognized by the Catholic Church and for whom the day is officially named) is actually pink.  A Roman citizen named Valentinus, the future St. Valentine, was jailed and sentenced to death, after “Roman Emperor Claudius ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and told them they couldn’t talk about Jesus or they would be killed.”  Valentinus “loved Jesus Christ and could not be quiet about this love.”  His jailer is said to have brought his blind daughter, Julia, to Valentinus for lessons.  Valentinus taught Julia about prayer and belief, leading her to pray for — and then actually receive — the ability to see.  After his execution, Julia is believed to have planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave.  Since then, the pink blossoms have become “a legendary symbol of abiding love and friendship.”

The symbol of passion, is red – to represent the warmth and the color of the heart – “passion and deep love, and they’re reserved for romantic relationships, or those hoping for one.”

Meanwhile, white is associated with pure or immaculate love and devotion (like “Jesus Christ, innocence and sacrifice”).

5. Cupid

The mischievous winged cherub is the Roman god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, as well as the son of Venus, the Goddess of Love.  Cupid is derived from the Latin word “cupido” meaning “desire” — However:  “Cupid shoots magical gold-tipped arrows at gods and humans alike.  By piercing their heart with an arrow, he causes individuals to fall deeply in love.”  And:  “Cupid is known to change his mind a lot.  Not only does he carry golden arrows to make someone fall in love, but he also carries another kind of arrow.  This other arrow has a blunt lead tip that makes people fall out of love.”  Oh my.  Fickle!

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