The history of Valentine’s day is a somewhat sordid one. During the reign of Emperor Claudius II, he decided that single men made better soldiers so he barred those men from getting married. Valentine, realizing that love transcended all, performed marriages in secret until he was caught and put to death. Another man by the same name was being imprisoned after falling in love with a young girl (likely his jailer’s daughter) and wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine” which, legend has it, is where we get the phrase from today.
An earlier and somewhat darker origin of the holiday comes from the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on February 15th. Priests of the holiday would sacrifice a goat and a dog to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and the two founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Legend has it, that by the end of the festival all of the women would place their names in an urn where the city’s bachelors would pick a name and be paired for the year with many of these matches resulting in marriage.
As the centuries moved on the holiday continued to grow in popularity. Today the oldest known Valentine was written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was being held in the Tower of London. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small gifts or notes. By the 1900s printed greetings were all the rage and usurped handwritten notes as the way to express your feelings.
Although the origin of the holiday dates back centuries its roots are often lost on us in the modern era. Valentine's has become more and more of a way for us to show our significant other how much they mean to us, even if we forget the rest of the year.
If we strip February 14th down to its base this is a day to celebrate the love that we have for each other. We want that special person in our lives to know what it means that they are there for us. We want them to know how much we love them. We want to show them in a tangible way how we feel.
The often cliché thing to give to our loved one on Valentine’s Day is chocolate, so much so that I’m sure if you walked into your local grocery store right now you will see an entire aisle dedicated to nothing but bright pink and red boxes full of chocolate. The other traditional thing to give your Valentine is jewelry.
Perhaps not as delicious but certainly more enduring, giving jewelry symbolizes something much deeper than giving a box of chocolate. Giving a soulmate necklace, ring, or bracelet can show your special someone how much they mean to you because it is not an ephemeral transient thing they will have for a while, it’s something they will likely have for the rest of their lives. Every time they put on that special jewelry that symbolizes love, they will remember the feelings and moments the both of you have shared and the love that is between you.