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A Voguish Valentine’s Day

By Paige McKirahan 

We all know that Valentine’s Day, the world's most beloved romantic holiday, is fast approaching as February 14th is less than a week away! In the midst of your mad dash to find that perfect gift for your special someone in the name of St. Valentine, you may be left wondering: who is this Saint and why are we even celebrating Valentine’s Day in the first place? 

The history behind this day of love is somewhat mysterious; there are three martyred Saint Valentines that are recognized by the Catholic church and the stories surrounding them are all enigmatic, sharing the same emphasis on the saints’ empathy, heroism, and dedication to romance. The celebration of Valentine’s Day came on the heels of the saint’s popularity in England and France during the Middle Ages. This celebration first began as a festival and feast that most think was held in the middle of February in attempt to implement Christian ideals into the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Roman gods Faunus, Romulus, and Remus. This festival began with Roman priests sacrificing a goat for fertility and a dog for purification in a sacred cave where infant Romulus and Remus were thought to have been cared for by wolves. They then took the goat's hides and dipped them into sacrificial blood, which was then used to gently slap women and crop fields to increase fertility. The women then placed all of their names into an urn for each of the city’s bachelors to pick out of, resulting in a pairing for the coming year that often ended in marriage.

 

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Lupercalia celebration (source)

 

Despite the fact that Lupercalia was outlawed on the account of it being “un-Christian”, Pope Gelasius wanted to continue the celebration and declared February 14th to be St. Valentine's Day at the end of the 5th century. The association with love didn’t come until around the 1400s when the first written valentines began to appear. By the 18th century, it was common for those across all social classes to exchange small gifts and notes with their loved ones to commemorate their affection for one another. 1900 brought the machine printed cards that began to replace handwritten notes as the preset messages made it easier to express one's emotions in a time where that was ultimately discouraged. Today, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged this year, with women purchasing over 85% of those pieces.

 

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Early Valentine (source

 

While this holiday tends to be all about romance, it is also one of the year’s best opportunities to dress up and wear what you love in celebration of the day of love! From heart motifs to a color wheel of red hues, Valentine’s Day fashion may be cliché for some, but we think it’s a fun way to bring a pop of color to the otherwise gloomy February weather. One of the most popular gifts given to commemorate the day (and one that lasts longer than chocolate or flowers) is jewelry; whether it is diamonds for your significant other or a fun new accessory for yourself, this holiday is a great excuse to grab that piece you’ve been debating about buying. While simple jewels in bracelets, rings, earrings, are necklaces are common when they are given as Valentine’s day gifts, this holiday’s accessories have a lot more to offer.

 

This jewelry buying sentiment didn’t come into play until the 1930s when Hallmark, the most famous greeting card company in the world, created a line of Valentine’s Day jewelry that took consumers by storm. Diamonds weren’t a popular choice until the 1980s, which means that costume jewelry prevailed and featured images like teddy bears, flowers, hearts, cupid, or other love-centric designs. Of course, most items are red and pink in tone, but some may go for a more edgy route and celebrate Valentine’s Day in black! If you’re stuck on what to gift to your loved ones (or to yourself!), check out our collections for some great gift-giving inspo!

 

Sources:

Barnwell, B. (2018, April 21). The History of Valentine's Day Jewelry and February 14th. Retrieved from https://estatesintime.com/2018/02/01/valentines-day-jewelry/
Editors, H. (2009, December 22). History of Valentine's Day. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2

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