Valentine's day wasn't always celebrated with boxes of candy and flowers, however. It all started out with the 3rd century Roman martyr St. Valentine, though it may indeed have roots in the pre-Roman festival Lupercalia, which was celebrated on 13-15 February.
The origins of the holiday are quite mysterious, as the Catholic Church recognises three martyred saints named Valentine, however the story of the third-century priest is the most romantic. Emperor Claudius had outlawed marriage in young men, as he believed single men made better soldiers than those with a family and more to lose. Against the Emperor's decree, Valentine continued to marry young lovers in secret, and when his actions were discovered he was captured and sentenced to death.
Saint Valentine of Terni Marrying Sabino and Serapia
Another story suggests there was a man called Valentine who helped Christian prisoners to escape from Roman prisons, for which he himself was imprisoned and later put to death! Legend has it that while in prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter and before he was taken to his death, he wrote one last love letter to her and signed it as “From your Valentine", perhaps sparking off the modern tradition of exchanging romantic notes on Valentine's Day.
These romantic heroes gained popularity in the Middle Ages when tragic, courtly love was in fashion. In fact, the oldest known remaining 'Valentine' goes all the way back to 1415 from a duke to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (You can find the original letter in the British Museum! Not a bad idea for a cheap date this Valentine's day, eh?)
While there may be a lot of bloodshed and tragedy in the history/folklore of Valentine's Day, at our gourmet online bakery in London we're all about love and smiles for our pretty and tasty artisan sweet treats.
Lots of love from Anges de Sucre!
Shelby aka Viking Two xoxo
Valentine's day is what we do best here at Anges de Sucre! What a better way is there to show someone you love them than a gift box of macarons or artisan marshmallows? We've even got new chocolate Love Hearts and Pretty Pralines just in time for the holiday!