The St Valentines – there were at least three of them that we believe did actually exist – don’t seem to be connected in any way with hearts and flowers. We don’t even know for sure who they were and when they lived. The problem is that there were some people named Valentinus, with various levels of religious affiliation, around and about in 200 AD or so, a time that would be useful if you were looking for a St Valentine stand-in, but none of them left any evidence that they sent greetings cards on 14th February, let alone a bunch of roses and a box of chocolates.
Then, there’s the Lupercalia brigade. This, so they say – believe them at your own risk, is a celebration of Romulus and Remus, unique to the city of Rome. You know, Lupus – wolf. Romulus and Remus, rescued from the Municipal Recycling Depot by a wolf. Then there are those who feel that Lupus was the Roman equivalent of the Greek God Pan and that the mid February rite was a fertility rite, particularly important to shepherds. Or possibly a festival marking the marriage of Zeus and Here that produced, among others the God of War. Shakespeare and Chaucer are in there too, helping to muddy the waters for all they are worth.
So, if you sent or received a valentine’s card today, you are continuing a tradition that has ancient roots indeed – and no-one actually knows where or how it all originated – and that’s much more interesting and intriguing, don’t you think?