Rector’s Letter for February 2014

Chocolate truffles

‘Love is in the air!’

It seems that we all have been given so many chocolates and gifts over Christmas (And, thank you all for my cards, chocolates, gifts and wine!) but chocolates, flowers and gifts will again be exchanged between loved ones this month; all in the name of Saint Valentine.

And, who is this Saint and where does this tradition come from?

Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery and legend and February the 14th became the commemoration of his death and burial which was in AD 207.

One such legend was that Valentine allowed soldiers to be married which was forbidden and he was put to death by Emperor Claudius II. There was another saying Valentine was killed for assisting Christians escaping harsh Roman Prison’s and yet another Valentine whilst imprisoned sent the first Valentine greeting to a jailor’s daughter he had fallen in love with; ‘From your first Valentine.’

Others claim the tradition comes from a Pagan Celebration; ‘Lupercalia’ a ‘fertility festival’ dedicated to Faunus the Roman god of agriculture where people gathered at a sacred cave on February 15th , where the founders of Rome; Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf. They used to skin a goat, soak it in blood and then they slapped the women and the crops with it and it was said to bring about fertility. Men and women drew names from a jar to make couples.

In the 5th Century,  Pope Gelasius declared it un-Christian and Saint Valentine’s day it became. It was not until the Middle Ages that love became associated with this day once more and February was always seen as the mating season of the birds which added to this idea. The first recorded association of Valentine with Romance is Parlement of Foules (1382) by Chaucer;

‘For this was on seynt Volantyns day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’

(For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate)

And, once again you are such a romantic community this year, we have so many Weddings and Blessings of Relationships and Renewal of Wedding Vows in our Churches and at the Castle.

Happy Valentines!

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