From 13 to 15 February, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. Many believe that the origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to this ancient fertility festival. To mark the occasion Roman men sacrificed goats before using their skins to whip women in the belief that this would make them fertile. Some historians have argued that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I declared 14 February to be Valentine’s Day in an attempt to reclaim this festival from the Romans and Christianise it. It’s not clear which St Valentine this day was initially dedicated to, as two saints with this name share the feast day of 14 February. Both of these saints were martyred in Rome; Valentine of Terni in around AD 197 and Valentine of Rome in around AD 496.
By the 17th century Valentine’s Day gets a mention in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
However, it was in the 18th century that the most familiar Valentine’s poem made its first appearance. These lines, found in a collection of nursery rhymes printed in 1784, read:
While this was the first appearance of the poem in this form, its origins reach back to Sir Edmund Spenser’s 1590s epic, The Faerie Queene.
The first Valentine’s cards were sent in the 18th century. Initially these were handmade efforts, as pre-made cards were not yet available. Lovers would decorate paper with romantic symbols including flowers and love knots, often including puzzles and lines of poetry. Those who were less inspired could buy volumes that offered guidance on selecting the appropriate words and images to woo their lover. These cards were then slipped secretly under a door, or tied to a door-knocker.
It was in Georgian Britain that pre-printed cards first began to appear, though these were not yet as popular as they were eventually to become. Perhaps the oldest surviving example dates from 1797: this card, held at York Castle Museum, was sent by one Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown of London. It is decorated with flowers and images of Cupid.
However, not all the recipes ideas featured in this blog may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.
All the best Jan