Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate love and lovers, or is it? How did it all begin? I had always heard, of course, that it was created to honor Saint Valentine, who was actually martyred under the Roman Emperor Claudius II (A.D. 214-270). Well, it appears there were TWO Christian martyrs of the same name and both were buried on the same day. Later a church was built over the graves. But the holiday also has other roots; during the days of the Romans, February occurred later in the calendar and on or about February 15, a festival was held, Lupercalia, in honor of spring. Even to the Romans, this festival was ancient for no one seemed to know to which deity it honored.
At any rate, the celebration was one of joy and homage. Roman soldiers carried the tradition to other countries and it was adopted and altered as the day grew to honor love and lovers. In one history, it was said that Medieval knights drew the names of their valentines from bowls, then wore the names on their sleeves, swearing to honor and protect them. Love songs were sung and poems written to celebrate the love that grew out of the tradition. By the 1600s, cards had become the means by which knights communicated with their lovers, but since many people could not read or write, they were more often decorated with flowers and symbols of love.
In the U.S., the first commercial Valentine’s cards were produced and sold in 1847, by Esther Howland, of Worcester, Mass. Her father operated a book and stationary store, and after receiving a card from someone in England, began to produce them. By 1900, valentines were being made by machines, via woodcuts and eventually, lithographs. Of course, because the Victorians used flowers to communicate ‘unspoken’ emotions, and developed a language based on flowers, I decided to check into the role of the ROSE.
As the official FLOWER of LOVE, the ROSE has been celebrated since these early days.
Red roses symbolize love, beauty, courage, respect, romantic love, and passion.
White roses symbolize friendship, purity, innocence, silency, reverence, humility, youthfulness.
Pink roses symbolize appreciation, grace, happiness, admiration, gentle love, admiration, sympathy.
Yellow roses symbolize the “promise of a new beginning,” also joy, gladness, rebirth, delight, deep friendship and platonic love. However, in Germany, they symbolize jealousy and infidelity!
Yellow roses with red tips symbolize burgeoning relationships and falling in love.
Orange roses symbolize desire, passion and enthusiasm.
Blue roses symbolize the impossible and the unattainable.
Black roses symbolize death, finality, farewells. Like blue roses, they are not found in nature.