So today was my first day back at uni after the Hollydays, and being back at uni gives me extra motivation to get cracking on this blog again after being rather neglectful during such a wonderful festive season!
This morning we were given our first project briefs. The basic jist is that we are designing a necklace based around the Valentine’s Day idea.
I’ve never really known how to feel about Valentine’s Day because Valentine’s Day also happens to be my birthday! Therefore i’ve never really celebrated it as Valentine’s Day it has always just been my birthday (which always has a pink and red hearty theme to it). I quite like it… means i always get cards on Valentine’s Day! I could take the approach that it’s just an invented holiday to sell more crap that we don’t need to each other, but more often than not i find myself quite liking the idea. It’s a day when lovers can celebrate the love that they share… then again being single at the moment, i may be slightly more bitter about it on the day!
Anyway, throughout this project i’m sure i’ll make up my mind about it! Here are some of the things i have learnt in my research so far:
St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D, a time when the church was enduring great persecution. His ministry was to help the Christians to escape this persecution, and to provide them the sacraments, such as marriage, which was outlawed by the Roman Empire at that time. Saint Valentine is said to have performed clandestine Christian Weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. The Roman Emperor Cladius II supposedly forbade this in order to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. In order to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians,” Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on Saint Valentine’s Day.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week.
In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.
Prior to the Elizabethan era, gloves were worn almost exclusively by men. But, by the late 16th century, gloves became a traditional Valentine’s Day gift for women. In fact, it became custom for a young woman to approach her man of choice and utter the verse: “Good-morrow Valentine, I go today; To wear for you, what you must pay; A pair of gloves next Easter Day.” Having thus been ambushed, the man was expected to send the woman a gift of gloves to wear on Easter Sunday. Sometimes men sent women gloves without an invitation. If the lady wore the gloves on Easter, it was a sign that she favored the gentleman’s romantic overtures.
In ancient Rome, when Valentine’s Day was still a pagan festival, young women would put their names in a box, to be randomly chosen by men—who, according to one account, “paid particular attention to the young women whose name they drew.” Early Christian leaders tried to discourage the practice by substituting saints’ names for women’s, but the tradition persisted.
In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewellery.
Not all Valentine’s Day cards celebrated love. During the 1840s and 1850s—as caricatures emerged as a popular art form—so too did demand for satirical cards. Even by today’s standards, the imagery was bawdy, and, at their worst, these “mock Valentines” were a petty excuse for cruelty. “Women were a particular target of attack valentines. Widows, old maids, loud or assertive women, flirts and coquettes were standard subjects of misogynistic derision…. Intractable, willful, or publicly active women were portrayed as devils, snakes, tigers, or hissing cats.” The “mock Valentine” craze eventually waned.
Every year since 2003, the human rights group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) has held peaceful demonstrations on Valentine’s Day, demanding access to education, health care and an end to government oppression of activists. Dressing in red and white outfits, they distribute paper roses and cards with messages such as, “Defend your right to love and let love overcome hate. Defend all your rights and stand up for the truth.
In recent years, Valentine’s Day has emerged as an occasion for public health education. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control seek to raise awareness about heart disease, with e-cards that read: “Valentine, dear Valentine, My heart beats just for you. To keep our hearts beating, Let’s walk a mile or two.” Worldwide, the holiday also has become an occasion for holding AIDS prevention workshops.
14 Dumb Valentine’s Day Traditions <— this blog post wonderfully breaks down Valentine’s Day!
Part 2 will come tomorrow when i am less sleepy :)