Valentine’s Day has now become a very large, commercial affair, but it still remains a special time for us to tell those we love how important they are to us. Every year, as February 14th approaches, candy, flowers, gifts, and cards are exchanged between loved ones, but where did this holiday actually originate?
Quite obviously, one would first assume that there was, in fact, a man named St. Valentine, who somehow was responsible for creating this day of romance. In fact, it is said that the Roman Catholic Church recognizes at least three saints named Valentine, or Valentinus, all who were martyred.
One legend states that Valentine was a priest, who lived in Rome during the third century. It is said that Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than married ones, and he, therefore, outlawed marriage for all young men at the time. It’s also said that this priest named Valentine realized this was wrong, and defied Claudius by continuing to perform marriages for couples in love. When Claudius found out what Valentine was doing behind his back, it is said that he had him put to death. Another legend reports that Valentine himself sent the first valentine, or message of love while he was in prison to a young girl he had fallen in love with. It is reported that his declaration of love written before he died, was signed, “From your Valentine”. Whether either of these legends are true or not, February 14th remains a day where the emotion of love is shared with those close to you, and when gifts, both large and small are exchanged.
Cupid is often associated with this holiday, and the name Cupid comes from the Latin word for desire. Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers, and even today we can find Valentine cards with cupid imprinted on them. We think of Cupid as being a mischievous, winged child who would shoot arrows to pierce the hearts of his victims causing them to fall deeply in love. In ancient Greece, he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman’s he was Cupid, and his mother was Venus, the goddess of love. In Italy, there is an old wives tale or superstition that calls for single women to awaken before sunrise and to look out their window. It is believed that the first man to pass their window was their true love and that they would marry him within the year. It is still somewhat of a tradition today, for couples in Italy to become engaged on Valentine’s Day.
As well as giving flowers, candy and other gifts, it is customary to share a romantic dinner with your loved one on Valentine’s Day, whether it entails dining out at your favorite restaurant, or cooking a romantic dinner at home. Food has always played an important roll in the game of love, and in fact, there is an old saying, that states “The road to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. There are many foods that are said to have qualities that increase sexual drive and promote feelings of love and desire. These foods are called aphrodisiacs, named after Aphrodite the goddess of sexual love and beauty. Although the Food and Drug Administration declared in 1989 that there was no specific proof that foods thought to be aphrodisiacs actually affected the sex drive, it is well known that some foods do stimulate specific body systems, causing such changes as increased heart rate, and blood flow. These changes alone may cause one to feel “warmer” towards the person they are sharing their meal with, or perhaps aphrodisiacs simply have a placebo effect, making us think they actually promote love and desire. Here are just a number of foods that are considered to be aphrodisiacs. You can decide for yourself if they really do work.
Aphrodisiacs ~ The Foods Of Love
Create your own romantic setting this Valentine’s Day, by inviting that special someone, and then preparing a special menu created to inspire feelings of love and desire. My Valentine’s Day Menu is actually two complete dinners, one for those who prefer seafood, and the other for those who would rather have meat. You can also check out a slideshow below with some of my other recipes that would be perfect to share with someone special on Valentine’s Day.
To express your affection, you can whisper one of these phrases into your special love’s ear. (From Michael San Filippo – Italian Language Host @ About.com)
Some of my Favorite Recipes That Would Be Perfect To Share On Valentine’s Day
Just Click On The Photos To Get The Recipes