Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Traditions

Throughout history, roses have been a symbol of love and beauty, respect and admiration. The close association between England and the rose stems from the Roman Invasion, when it is believed that the Romans brought with them the white rose - a real comodity in those times. The national flower of England, the rose is also the emblem of two English counties - Lancashire and Yorkshire. The white rose of Yorkshire and the red rose of Lancashire gave name to the "War of the Roses" - a war which lasted some 100 years.

Valentine's Day has many symbols, some dating back as long as Valentine's Day itself. In recent times however, the more obscure symbols have been replaced with those we all know today - such as cupid, hearts and roses.

The mischievous son of Venus - the Goddess of Love - Cupid is is supposedly responsible for people falling in love. According to the myths, anyone hit by Cupid's arrow falls in love with the first person he or she sees. His mischievous intentions have led to some entertaining situations in various legends. In Roman mythology, Cupid has Eros - the son of Aphrodite - as his counterpart. The names of both of these Gods are used synonymously with the concept of love today.

Love Spoons
Dating back hundreds of years, the Welsh tradition of carving and giving love spoons (or lovespoons) is still followed today, most notably on Valentine's Day. Originally they were carved by young men and offered to the girls they loved as tokens of affection. Over the years, as the love spoons became more elaborate and decorative, they have become collectables.

Different carvings symbolise different feeling and emotions. A chain for example symbolises a wish to be together forever, a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune, a cross would mean faith, a flower would mean affection, a dragon for protection, and so on.

Today as well as being a gift of affection or a memento of a visit to Wales, love spoons are given for special occasions - primarily Valentine's Day, but also for such occasions as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, births, engagements, christenings and house warmings.

Ribbons, Lace, Frills
Ribbons, laces and frills are another Valentine's symbol - used since the ancient times of knights and nobles who used to wear scarves adorned with ribbons, laces and frills. These would have been prepared by their lover or loved ones. Originally linen, silk, gold, or silver threads were used. Now lace is often made with cotton thread. Manufactured lace may be made of synthetic fiber. A few modern artists makes lace with a fine copper or silver wire instead of thread.

Lace has also long been used to make women's handkerchiefs. Hundreds of years ago, if a woman dropped her handkerchief, a man might pick it up for her. Sometimes, if she had her eye on the right man, a woman might intentionally drop her handkerchief to encourage him. So, people began to think of romance when they thought of lace.
In more recent times, ribbons, laces and frills have been used as a symbol of love in various ways... from ribbons on gifts to lacy underwear!

To a beloved, there is no symbol as important as the heart. To give someone one's heart means to give to him or her one's whole being, for the heart is at the center of one's existence. The heart stands for the most profound and noblest of human emotions- that of love. Through ages, it has inspired millions to rise above the mundane cares and to get lost in the thought of their beloved. Thus a heart, pierced by Cupid's arrow, has become the most famous of the Valentine's symbols.

It's not difficult to figure out the connection between the heart and Valentine's Day. The heart, after all, was thought in ancient times to be the source of all emotions. It later came to be associated only with the emotion of love.

It's not clear when the valentine heart shape became the symbol for the heart. Some scholars speculate that the heart symbol as we use it to signify romance or love came from early attempts by people to draw an organ they'd never seen.

Love Knots
Young women in strict Muslim households used to send their pledges of love to young men through messages woven through the knots of a carpet in an Arab tradition. This tradition of sending messages through the knots gave birth to the concept of love knots that continues to this day.

Love knots typically have series of winding and interlacing loops with no beginning and no end. A symbol of everlasting love, love knots were also made from ribbon or drawn on paper.

Love Birds and Doves
It was believed that on this romantic day, birds found their mates. This belief is still cherished by love struck people all over the world. The sweet little blue coloured lovebirds have come to signify that belief. It is said that the lovebirds can't live without their mates. Doves are symbols of loyalty and love, because they mate for life and share the care of their babies. Also, in the Christian belief, they signify purity, meekness and innocence. Hence, these two birds have become the most endearing symbols of the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

The rose has always been valued for its beauty and perfume. The Ancient Greeks and Romans associated the rose with their Goddesses of Love, Venus and Aphrodite. In Roman times, a wild rose would be placed on the door of a confidential meeting place, hence the phrase "sub rosa" - or "under the rose” - was borne. The literal meaning still stands today; to keep a secret.

While it's a well known fact that roses symbolise not only love, but such emotions as admiration and respect, the rose can also symbolise an array of other sentiments and emotions. Based solely on their colour, these meanings can be broken down as follows.

Red roses
Recognised for their symbolism of love and passion, as well as respect, admiration and beauty.

Black roses
Signifying a deeper feeling of romance, love and passion, and also a sense of mystery.

White roses
The white rose is known for its feelings of not only love, but true love and reverence.

Pink roses
Pink roses are a symbol of admiration, elegance and refinement - popular at birthdays and the birth of a baby boy.

Yellow roses
A popular symbol of friendship and respect - also popular for anniversaries, or the birth of a baby boy.

Lilac roses
One of the lesser seen rose colours, the enchanting lilac rose is a symbol of respect.

Orange roses
Expressing desire and passion, the orange rose can also be used to express admiration and respect.

Coral roses
Another uncommon colour; coral roses are a sign of happiness and can also be used to express desire.

Cream roses
An expression of caring; cream roses are a popular way of letting someone know they're in your thoughts.

Mauve roses
The meaning of the mauve-coloured rose can often be misinterpreted; it should indicate a sense of passion, and even erotica!

Blue roses
Not a naturally occurring colour, dyed blue roses signify a sense of impossibility; fantasy.