I'm trying to observe this day for it's true meaning & not the commercialism of buying chocolate, jewellery & roses! Let's see how long that lasts :P
My Valentine's Fashion Illustration was featured in Illustration Rally's Valentine's blog post #39 for my fashion illustration "A Fine Romance": Illustration Rally
Saint Valentine's Day, honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. The name 'Valentine' is derived from 'valens' meaning 'worthy, strong, powerful' and was popular in Late Antiquity. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on Feb 14th, nothing is known about him except his name and that he was buried on the Via Flamina north of Rome on Feb 14th.
First established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD who included St. Valentine among those "...whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." (but was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of saints by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
"The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate."
It was a day associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when first the tradition of courtly love flourished. Since the 15th centrury it has become an occasion where lovers express their love by giving flowers, confectionery & greeting cards, now known as 'valentines'.
Modern symbols of Valentine's Day include the heart-shape, doves & the figure of winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have been replaced by mass-produced greeting cards, filled with little romantic verses.
My favourite cliche Valentine's poem (found in the collection of English nursery rhymes 'Gammer Gurton's Garland' from 1784 is:
References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine"The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you"