The original St Valentine is hard to pin down, and in fact there were several early Christian saints with who bore the same name. One particular candidate lived in Rome and was martyred in 496 AD. Legend says that he performed secret marriages for soldiers forbidden to marry under army rules, and also healed the daughter of his jailer, replying to her letters with notes signed ‘Your Valentine’.
Supposedly, that post-marriage, St Valentine would hand out hearts cut from parchment to remind his followers of their marriage vows and God’s love, which could be the origin of the association of the heart symbol with Valentine’s Day.
The saint himself was supposed to have worn a ring with a stone of purple amethyst, traditionally worn by Christian bishops. Valentine’s ring had an image of cupid engraved on it, which was at the time a symbol associated with love. Probably because of this association, amethyst has become the birthstone of those with a February birthday, and is also supposed to attract love to the wearer.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, when courting became the norm, that Valentine’s Day really developed into a celebration of romantic love between couples. It flourished even more during the 18th century, and evolved into the offering of traditional gifts such as flowers, sweets and handmade cards.
In recent times, Valentine’s Day has become increasingly commercial with pressure to create a big romantic statement, but most couples appreciate the chance to spend time with each other more than anything else. Take your other half out for a long country walk with flasks of hot chocolate on hand, cook a special dinner or treat them to a meal out. At the Swettenham Arms, we’ve planned a gorgeous Valentine themed dinner on February 14th, perfect for showing your loved one how much you care. Click here to see the menu. To book, give us a call on 01477 571284.