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Love is in the air: Valentine's Day 2020

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Valentine's Day arrangements at Panache Flowers.

Love is in the air in Glenferrie!

Will from the Glenferrie Newsagency at 660 Glenferrie Road says that many locals have been buying their special Valentine's Day greeting cards and entries for the $20 million jackpot to be drawn on the weekend. “Buy a ticket for your lover!”

Kate from Australian-made gift store Blackbird and Fox (714 Glenferrie Road) believes that Valentine's Day is “pretty popular” in Glenferrie, but “more low-key” than crazier seasons such as Christmas. Their most popular gifts have been the more humorous Valentines Day cards and smaller gifts such as earrings and soaps, “little tokens of love” more so than larger expensive presents. For a store with a predominantly female customer base, Blackbird and Fox do notice a spike in male customers leading up to Valentine's Day, coming in to find the perfect gift for their partner for the romantic holiday.

Cards and paper heart display at Blackbird and Fox.

The origins of Valentine's Day

As our local shop-fronts boast bouquets and beating hearts, The Glenferrie Times looks into the history of the romantic holiday and its speculative roots in Catholic saints, pagan festivals, and courting traditions.

The Catholic Church recognises two Saint Valentines who were both executed and martyred on February 14 in Ancient Rome. One legend tells of a priest named Valentine who performed secret marriages for young lovers when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men, as he believed wives made for distracted soldiers. Another legend tells of the first-ever ‘valentine’, when an imprisoned Valentine sent a love letter from jail after freeing Christians from persecution, which he signed with the now-traditional expression: “From your Valentine”.

Valentine's Day is also speculated to have emerged as an appropriation of Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival celebrated in mid-February. One of the traditions of Lupercalia was the pairing of young women with the city’s bachelors, match-making lovers by pulling their names from a large urn. Lupercalia was eventually outlawed by the Catholic Pope Gelasius at the end of the 5th century, who declared that February 14 was the Feast of Saint Valentine; Valentine’s Day.

Valentine traditions began around the Middle Ages, as the romantic and admirable legend of Saint Valentine became popular throughout the French and British empires. Valentines in the form of written love letters and handmade cards began in the early 15th century, before the industrial revolution at the turn of the 19th century introduced mass-printing factory technology. The birth of the infamous Hallmark greeting card company in the United States in 1913 propelled Valentine’s Day to what it is today: one of the largest card-giving events of the year, second only to Christmas (The Greeting Card Association).

Symbols and traditions of Valentine's Day throughout the ages include hearts, doves, flowers (roses in particular), cards (both bought and handmade), chocolates, traditional courting (dating proposals), and the angelic cherub Cupid, an infantilized adaptation of the Greek god of love, Eros.

Themed Valentine's Day display in the window of Haigh's Chocolates.

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