Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and with it comes a countless array of romantic gift ideas for that special someone. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of chocolates and greeting cards. Instead, stick with the classics: flowers, jewelry, and hearts. Love birds have used these classic gifts to express their affection for centuries. Want to know the fascinating history behind these Valentine’s Day staples? Read on and feel the love.
Hearts are the most iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day. We buy heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and send heart-shaped Valentine’s cards to our loved ones. But where did this tradition come from? In ancient times, the heart was considered the center of all human emotions, and therefore the center of love. While the origin of the shape is unclear, we know that the usage of the heart-shape as a symbol of love can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where it often appeared in books and paintings to show emotion.
So, why do we give hearts specifically on Valentine’s Day? To answer this question, we need to look back at Saint Valentine. According to legend, Saint Valentine would cut out hearts from pieces of paper and give them to persecuted Christians as a symbol of God’s love. As Valentine’s Day rose in popularity, people gave each other hearts to express their affection.
The tradition of giving flowers can be traced all the way back to prehistoric times. This custom was passed down across the centuries. Archaeologists have found remnants of flowers in graves at excavation sites all over the world. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese all believed that the best way to express emotion for another person was to give flowers.
During the Middle Ages when the church restricted couples from showing affection in public, lovers would give each other flowers to avoid being reported by watchful eyes. In Turkey, flowers were used to send messages, with each flower having a unique meaning. The Victorians saw flower-giving as a delightful way to express affection in a time when openly talking about your feelings was considered in bad taste. This custom was passed down across the centuries–the act of giving flowers has remained the sweetest way to show someone that you care.
Jewelry has always been a coveted art form. In prehistoric times, cavemen and women gifted each other jewelry made of grass, animal teeth, and pebbles. As civilization became more advance, humans continued to gift and adorn themselves with jewelry. In ancient Egypt, people were often buried wearing rings on the third finger of their left hands because it was believed to connect to the heart through the vena amoris–or “vein of love” in Latin. Hence, why we wear our engagement rings on our third finder of our left hand.
In later years, the Victorians would make jewelry for their loved ones using human hair and gemstones such as rubies and sapphires to spell out messages of endearment. The traditions have carried over and across the world jewelry continues to symbolize a token of love.
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