Friday, January 2, 2009

Gift of Love!

Valentine's Day may be thought of as a rather twentieth century celebration of love but in fact, it dates as far back as the third century! The original was a feast day celebrated by Romans and such who celebrated a goddess called Juno Februata. The original celebration consisted of young, single girls putting there name in a pot with young men then being matched to them. For the following year, the young man would take care of the girl until the following February came around and the whole thing started over again. Of course, some liaisons would last, thus it became known for the 'lovers day' more relevant to today's celebrations.
These practices, however, were considered heathen by the Christian church and to allay such practices, they changed the girls' names to Saints names (and called it St. Valentine's Day). Whichever Saints names the boys picked meant that they had to emulate his behavior for the coming year. Over time this again fizzled out and the feast of St. Valentine has been with us ever since.
Although not proven, there is thought to have been about seven St. Valentines in history. Two incidents link the name with the day; one was that St. Valentine was jailed but fell in love with the jailer's daughter. He purportedly sent her notes signed 'from your Valentine'. Another was that Valentine was a priest. During war times men did not want to leave family, girl friends and loved ones so Emperor Claudius outlawed marriages and engagements. Valentine married them in secret and for his pains was jailed for life.
All the stories evolved into one when in 496 St. Valentines' day was decreed to be the day for lovers to exchange secret messages. Since then, of course, the day has become more and more popular with even married couples, children and grandparents becoming involved.
In many cultures the custom now is to wear red on that day although this was not required even at the end of the twentieth century. It seems that people are so enamored of the day that it keeps on evolving as every year goes by. Really, it is just another excuse to give a gift or card to a loved one, whether it is a child to a parent or vice versa, or for lovers or engaged couples. Traditionally it was supposed to be a love message sent in secret but in current days people tend to sign with their own names.
Now you have the history of the day, the next big question is 'what to give that certain someone'. Although it is traditional to give flowers and/or chocolates people now tend to give other gifts as well.
If flowers are your choice, take care to find out the meaning of the flowers and their colors. They all have meanings and you don't want to send the wrong one! For example, yellow roses are a sign of friendship which is not what a man would want a future love interest to receive. Red roses are for love which also may be a bit strong for the initial foray into the world of romance. These may be better suited to an established relationship since they also denote passion. Perhaps a mix of different colored roses may be the right note to hit if it is the first time to send someone a Valentine gift. In this way, no clear message is portrayed but the lady - or man - in question will definitely get the message that you are interested.
Some other flowers that may be good to send are; tulips for a 'perfect lover', sunflowers for adoration or white violets for 'let's take a chance'. One of the main ones to avoid on Valentine's Day is orange lilies because, believe it or not, they stand for hatred!
Chocolates too are a firm favorite when sending sweets to your 'sweetie'. Even if the recipient is a health fanatic chocolates are ok once in a while. Most people appreciate the thought behind the gift and overlook any faux pas that may have been made.
Of course, gifts don't have to be of the edible kind. Something like a musical box or
jewelry boxes would be more than welcome and the choice is tremendous. Many websites offer self designed boxes, to some degree, with a choice of musical tune or finish to make the gift somewhat unique. Even if that favored tune is not available as standard, for an extra charge certain companies will make the tune specifically for you which will indeed make the box totally unique.
Jewelry is also another firm favorite for established relationships and there is an abundance of different pieces on offer. Some of the more classical pieces are; a pair of matching key rings with half a heart on each. This denotes that your heart is only whole when you are both together. Or perhaps try a heart shaped, silver paper weight with your own message or initials inscribed on it. A useful reminder on a daily basis that you exist!
Some people enjoy collecting things and, again, there are many items on sale that are within this category. Limited edition
musical boxes or statuettes are available - some with the ubiquitous tune or message - with some being personalized to the person you are giving it to. Imagine having a figurine made with your sweethearts face on it. Pictures are sent on the internet and the company will make up the model - available in many poses and outfits - to be a caricature of your intended.
Whatever you decide on, make sure that you give it some thought. There is nothing worse than receiving an inappropriate gift. This rather defeats the object of letting that person know that you have feelings for him or her. On the other hand, a great gift goes a long way to breaking the ice and you never know where this one day, and its ancient customs, will take you!

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