Whether you love it or hate it this event isn’t going anywhere. For some it’s the most romantic day of the year for others it’s a veiled excuse to sell your business hard; I had an email the other day from an office products company that was all about me having to buy a swanky 6k printer because it was coming up to Valentine’s Day and if I loved my business I would buy it… an interesting strategy because it put my back up; I do love my business but I have a printer which doesn’t need to be upgraded and it would never be upgraded to that level… however, it does show the marketing works – I am talking about it aren’t I! St Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for over 600 years; before you rush out to buy all the things for the one you love or point all your marketing towards cupid, have a read of these fascinating facts about this celebration of love and understand what you are aligning to.
There are two main stories around the origins of Valentine’s Day. One that it comes from Claudius II, he had to rapidly increase army numbers so banned men from marrying; St Valentine is said to have rejected the ban and performed secret marriages… he was executed for this on February 14th in the year 270. The second theory on this is that Valentine’s Day is derived from the pagan celebration of Lupercalia a festival where men stripped naked and smacked young ladies with animal hides to increase their fertility. Animal sacrifices were made, and everyone encouraged into massive amounts of sexual activity… to ward off evil spirits, promote fertility and to welcome spring. This festival was later dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus as it was to increase fertility of all bodies and lands to ensure a bumper harvest of babies and crops.
The first Valentine poem is said to have been sent in 1415 from Charles, a medieval French Duke to his wife from The Tower of London, he used the words ‘my very gentle valentine’ and a tradition was born.
It's believed that signing with an X was used in the place of a signature because many people couldn't read or write. The X is a Christian symbol that represents the cross, and the idea is that the history of Christians kissing statues of Christ or kissing the bible led to X getting its meaning as a modern-day kiss.
No blog like this would be complete without a mention of the Victorians (what a time to have been alive). Those who didn’t want the attention of certain suitors would anonymously send "Vinegar Valentines” or "penny dreadfuls," which would range from cheeky, saucy, and funny to cruel and could be purchased to insult anyone in your life. Interestingly, the same cards were later used to target suffragettes in the late 19th and early 20th century.
In the 1700s English Women attached 5 Bay leaves to their pillows (one in the middle and four on the corners) on the night of February 13 so they would have sweet dreams about their future husbands.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names to see who their Valentine would be, and they would wear the name pinned to their arm for one week so that everyone would know their true feelings. This is where the phrase ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve came from’
St. Valentine is also the Patron Saint of beekeepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, plague, travellers, and young people.
The tradition of sending flowers stems from (see what I did there) King Charles II of Sweden after a trip to Persia in the early 1700’s.
The heart was once widely believed to be humans' centre of memory, where feelings of love were recorded. We have French and Italian artists from the 14th century to thank for the symbol that we know and love today, as they were the first ones to start using this motif in their work.
In Roman mythology, Cupid (Eros to the Greeks) is the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and he's often depicted with a bow and arrows to pierce hearts and cast a spell of love. Legend has it that 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.
In other news lots of other things have happened on February 14th these are some of the ones I found most interesting:
· 1852 Great Ormond Street Hospital welcomed its first patient
· 1876 Alexander Graham Bell applied for the patent for his Telephone
· 1929 Alexander Fleming introduced the world to Penicillin
· 1984 Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won Figure Skating Gold
· 1991 The Silence of the Lambs was released in American Cinemas
· 1895 The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde) opens in London
· 1929 The St Valentine’s Day massacre took place; 7 gangsters killed (allegedly ordered by Al Capone)
· 1946 Bank of England was nationalised
· 1971 Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House
· 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini issues a Fatwa against Salman Rushdie
· 1990 Perrier recalls 160m bottles of water due to Benzene in the product
· 1349 900 Jews murdered in Strasburg after being blamed for Black Death
· 1992 Wayne’s World was released in cinemas
· 2006 Chip and Pin was introduced
· 2013 Oscar Pistorius is charged with the murder of Reeva Steenkamp
Now, I love a tenuous link as much as the next person but where’s the business advice here? It’s simply about knowing your history and understanding that while something may look all hearts and flowers it isn’t so if you’re attaching your business to something ensure you know all the aspects and potential impacts.
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