In about two weeks, sweethearts everywhere will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. Although delectable chocolates, romantic flowers, and poetic cards have become symbolic of the holiday, it actually did not originate as a celebration of love at all.
Back in the third century in Rome, Emperor Claudius II held the notion that young, single men made the best soldiers because they had no ties to wives or children. To enforce this, he outlawed marriage to this group. A young priest named Valentine saw how unfair this was and defied the Emperor by performing marriages for young lovers secretly. Eventually the Emperor discovered Valentine’s betrayal and demanded that he be sentenced to death. During Valentine’s imprisonment, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Before his death, he sent a letter to his love signed, “From your Valentine.” The young priest was executed on February 14th, 270 AD. Eventually Valentine was named a saint, and later in the 5th century Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day.
The tradition of sending flowers began much later. In the Victorian era it was against moral conduct to reveal feeling towards one another. In the 18th century, Charles II of Sweden began the custom of exchanging floral bouquets. Each flower had a meaning, so bouquets were given to one another to send non verbal messages. If you gave a flower with the right hand it meant “yes” and in the left hand meant “no.” Roses are the choice flower for Valentine’s Day, and in particular, red roses since it was the flower of Venus the Goddess of Love, as well as the color of the heart.
Now that you know the meaning of flowers and colors, you can get creative mixing varieties to convey hidden messages just like in the Victorian era!