Valentine’s Day At Birchwood House
Here at Birchwood House, we love any excuse for a celebration and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Not only do we spend time putting up decorations and making the tables look special, Chef Pete also prepares a special meal and this year we’ll be enjoying a delicious feast of beef bourguignon with seasonal vegetables, followed by his special (and rather naughty!) chocolate mousse.
We know that this special occasion, celebrated across the world on February 14th, is named after St. Valentine ’s Day but did you know that the feast day dates back to the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February? The festival celebrated the coming of Spring and included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery – but it only came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.
Formal messages, or ‘valentines’, then appeared in the 1500s – The Duke of Orleans sent the earliest Valentine’s card to his wife whilst he was a prisoner in the Tower of London in the 15th century. In 1537, King Henry VII officially declared February 14 as the holiday of St. Valentine’s Day – and it has stuck ever since. By the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used – often depicting Cupid, son of Venus, and the Roman god of love, along with love hearts.
Red roses – the favourite flower of Venus, Roman goddess of love, have also become a symbol of beauty and love and are commonly exchanged on the 14th February with approximately received on Valentine’s Day around the world. Why red? It was once believed that the heart was the part of the body that the feeling of love came from. As the heart pumped red blood around the body, the colour became the symbol of love.
By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.
Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions and today around a billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged across the world each year, making it the second largest card sending time of the year after Christmas.
Finland calls Valentine’s Day Ystävänpäivä, which translates into ‘Friend’s day’ and is a day to celebrate friendship rather than romance – while in the Philippines, it is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on that date.
Whether you’re snuggled up with a partner, spending time with friends and family, or simply enjoying some ‘me time’ – we wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day!
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