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Saint Valentines Day

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Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14th. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honouring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.

Several martyrdom stories associated with the various Valentines that were connected to February 14th were added to later martyrologies, including a popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome which indicated he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Saint Valentine's Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6th and July 30th the former date in honour of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honour of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).

Valentine's Day customs developed in early modern England and spread throughout the Anglosphere in the 19th century. In the later 20th and early 21st centuries, these customs spread to other countries, but their effect has been more limited than those of Halloween or than aspects of Christmas, (such as Santa Claus). Due to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine's Day is celebrated in some East Asian countries with Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine's gifts.

When asked which food they associate with Valentine’s Day, most people think of chocolates. However, there are a few more foods besides those sweet treats that have traditionally been used to celebrate both love and Valentine’s Day.

Herbs – Basil, lavender and rosemary are the three herbs most associated with Valentine’s Day. Basil is a traditional symbol of fertility and was often worn by women to signal their single nature. The scent of lavender is not only relaxing, it is said to be an aphrodisiac. Rosemary has long been a symbol of love, with it being used frequently in wedding bouquets during the Middle Ages.

Wine – The warm feelings one gets upon drinking a glass of wine have long been compared to the euphoria of love. This has easily made wine a symbol of the same. If you want to avoid its inebriating qualities, cooking with wine will burn off the alcohol.

Honey – Bees are traditionally a symbol of love because of the sweetness of honey and the bitterness of their sting. It’s no wonder that honey is also used to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Strawberries – Their red colour and heart shape make strawberries a perfect fruit to celebrate love. Strawberries are also the symbol of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Dip the fruit in chocolate and you can enjoy one of the most traditional Valentine’s Day foods.

Chocolate – We won’t leave out the most popular Valentine’s Day food, even though it one of the more recent additions to the holiday menu. Chocolates became a common gift during the Victorian era. Victorians practiced a romanticized version of medieval chivalry and courtly love. Richard Cadbury (yes, that Cadbury), a chocolatier who worked during the mid-1800s, not only developed a recipe for a creamier chocolate, but also dreamed up the special heart-shaped boxes now associated with Valentine’s Day.