Who Was St Valentine?

Typically, in history, the origin of some of our saints and festivals morph into one and St Valentine is no different – he is many people morphed into one. Here we take a look at the origins of who he might have been, and why they are associated with the most romantic day of the year…

They say that some lose their heads for love… Well, this is certainly true of St Valentine

The first St Valentine is a Christian saint who was doing his business around 3rd century Rome. Remember, Christians were persecuted by the Romans – chucked to the lions so in many places around the world (like in Egypt) their societies had to operate in secret because what they were doing could have them killed.

The first St Valentine was part of a secret underground Christian movement at the time of Claudius II (Claudius Gothicus – and not because he was the first to listen to Sisters Of Mercy and wear black) and he is associated with love because he married Christian couples in secrecy (he also helped fellow Christians who were being persecuted and thrown to the lions by Claudius but that bit isn’t relevant to today’s post…)

Claudius had him slammed in jail and while he was awaiting execution, he tried to convert Claudius from his pagan ways. Obviously Claudius was fuming – why would he want to convert to a more sedate Christianity? Paganism followed MANY gods and had many parties celebrating these many gods – not to mention the mystery gods… Or the sacrifices, or the days partying hard on wine and women – and men (this 3rd century St Valentine wasn’t up for partying hard, Andrew WK style, basically).

He was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate and you can visit his reliquary (pictured above) in the basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Apparently, his bones and a vial of blood ended up in Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church. But before he died, he sent a message to the jailer’s daughter, who he had fallen in love with, that said, ‘From your Valentine’.

He is said to be executed on February 14th – a bit of a convenient date, considering a lot of important dates have been muddied with Pagan parties- remember, the Lupercalia is on the 15th… and when Christianity cleansed the world of the debauchery that was happening in the name of religion, a lot of Pagan celebrations just so happened to fall on the same date as this new religion…

Back in history, Valentine was a popular name. Like John or Chris… It was used a lot because Valentinus meant powerful and strong… And butch. But of the Valentines we know about (there are effing loads of ‘ordinary blokes’ with this name noted in history), it doesn’t seem to be a lucky name.

Aside from St Valentine of Rome, who you’ve just read was beheaded, there was another Valentine, the Bishop of Terni. Because this bloke lived around the same time and was also apparently beheaded by Claudius II, some believe this to be the same bloke. The Catholic church has a massive list of Saints and there are many named St Valentine, and there was even a Pope Valentine (he served only 40 days).

One Valentine who fared a bit better was St Valentine Berrio-Ochoa, a Dominican order Spaniard, who traveled to Vietnam and served as bishop. Then in true St Valentine tradition, he too had his head chopped off in 1861.

Real Life ” I Do”! Rachael’s Scrap Book Proposal

Continuing our proposal inspiration, we asked real-life bride to be Rachael how she popped the question to her intended, Neil… She had to get creative because lockdown scuppered the original plans, but we think this is beautiful! This is what she said…

THE SCRAPBOOK PROPOSAL

I had already decided in December 2019 that I was going to propose to my partner. I knew he wanted to get married, as did I, but was being a bit slow about proposing. He’s not really a jewellery or big spontaneous gesture kind of person, so flash mobs, public proposals and engagement rings were out of the question.

We’ve always referred to each other as adventuring buddies both think Up! is romantic (the first bit) and I like crafts. So I decided to make him a scrap book to propose with. We have an in joke, and 15a means ‘I love you’. So clearly sections of the scrap book needed to be numbered up to 15b being ‘marry me’. I set about the book in January 2020, including lots of tickets, photos, napkins, cards, anything to spark a joyous memory.

But when to propose? On a nice weekend away was obvious. We had two suitable trips planned, the last weekend in February and then in May. We’ll, there was no way I was proposing on the only day in 4 years where women are traditionally allowed to (29th Feb), so May it was. Then covid, ill health, furlough and all sorts of things hit. Needless to say the trip in May did not happen. But I couldn’t wait for all this to be over as it dragged in into August with no end in sight. So, with the scrap book ready, I ordered a wonderful set of cheeses from our local cheesemonger, as it was something special. I tidied the dining room (we rarely eat in there, so it felt like being somewhere other than the house we hadn’t left in 4 months) and set it up to look like a Parisian restaurant (our last holiday was Paris) with Moulin Rouge on the lap top (a film we both adore and have amazing memories of the Secret Cinema version). We ate. We drank. I gave him the book and got very nervous! He beamed looking through all of the sections and memories and when he got to 15b, grinned at me, said yes, gave me a kiss, and ran off!

He returned with a little box with a ring and asked me the same question! He had been planning to propose on the May trip too! Of course I said yes! We then video called parents and announced on social media. I was so pleased that it managed to all feel magical despite being at home. It was a very ‘us’ proposal.”

I Love the way Rachael proposed to Neil – thanks so much to her for sharing this fabulous and inspiring proposal! It really sums up the story of their life together so far… They get married in October 2020 ❤

All pics by Rachael Eyre

Proposal Ideas Pt 2

If you are looking for a different way to pop the question on St Valentine’s Day, here are a few more ideas…

GIVE THEM THE KEY… TO YOUR HEART.

Well, it might sound a bit obvious, but it’s fun, right? And these days, asking for permission and finding a formal moment to “do it” all sounds a bit serious, doesn’t it? So why not have a bit of fun? A key that fits a locked box, which has a ring inside is a really cute way to propose… But if you want to make it even more special, why not put inside some of your favourite photos from your story so far – moments that have been magical. If you are like me, you may have kept tickets or “souvenirs” from things you did together… why not pop them inside the box as well! If you are poetic, why not include a poem, or some lyrics to your favourite song?

MATRYOSHKA!

Are you crafty? Do you love folklore? Then why not hide the question inside a set of Russian nesting dolls? You can get some really cool ones around now, based on any theme, and I’m told that a certain UK hobby shop even does ones you can paint yourself – so you can make your own mini Matryoshkas based on yourselves!

LOVE BY THE BOOK…

Photo-books are really easy to create these days. Most of the major printing sites make them and you can caption each page yourself, so why not give your loved one your love story so far? Don’t be put off by the thought of it being a difficult thing to create as most sites have templates and you just click on the photo upload area and choose your pics. Don’t forget to pop the question in the book! and it is noce to leave a “to be continued…” page to make it clear that that isn’t the end of the story!

If photo uploads aren’t your thing, you could do a really low-key proposal, simply by putting the ring in a book and asking your intended to pass you the book. This is a nice idea as it’s quite relaxed and if you choose your moment correctly it will be unexpected and delightful!

BY VIDEO

These days, everyone seems to be doing things by video, so why not propose… but the key thing here is to make it special, and not some quick recorded message sent to their inbox without a thought, because you are scared to ask in person! This is not the alternative of being scared to ask in person! Some ideas for you include choosing your background – you want to make it look like you’ve put some special thoughts into it. you can make a physical background by decorating a wall or some curtains with love hearts, or even letters… Talking to camera works – make sure you look down the lens, though, so your loved one feels like you are talking directly to them, and ensure you are nicely lit – a light in front that illuminates your face is best, as back lit will cause shadows. If you want to make it humorous you could lip sync to a song and there are editing packages that are really easy to use now, so if you wanted to play different characters, wear different outfits, or incorporate clips from friends, then you can. How you choose to send it is up to you, but unless you are really confident of the answer, and sure your intended wont hit the roof because everyone has seen this first, it’s probably not the best idea to put it up publicly on social media or youtube. And choose your moment to send it! Make sure it hits their inbox at a special moment…

More proposal hints and tips coming tomorrow!