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Folklore, Legends & Traditions: St. Valentine's Day

In Italy, it is a tradition to get engaged on Valentine's Day, February 14. Some shops sell china baskets and cups which are filled with Valentine candies and tied with ribbon which you can give as Valentine presents.

Valentine's Day is believed to begin different ways. Some trace it to the ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. There is also an old English belief that birds choose their mates on February 14.  In any case, the Valentine's Day we know today probably derived from a combination of many legends. Besides, spring is always known as a time for lovers.

The festival of Lupercalia on February 15 was to ensure protection from wolves. During the celebration, young men whipped people with strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they believed it made them more fertile. After the Romans conquered Britain in the year 43 AD, British borrowed many of these Roman festivals. Writers link the festival of Lupercalia with Valentine's Day because of the similar date and the connection with fertility.

Some say there were actually two saints named Valentine.  One of which was imprisoned by the Romans him because he refused to worship their pagan gods. Valentine had a special bond with children and missed him so much they would pass notes between the bars of his prison cell window.  This is how the word "valentine" becomes synonomous with messages of love. Another story is that Saint Valentine restored the sight of a jailer's blind daughter.

Red: "I Love You"
White: "You are heavenly" but can also mean innocence, purity, friendship; or a secret admirerer
Red & White Roses Together: Unity
Pink:  Grace & gentility; deep pink can stand for gratitude and apprecaiation; light pink signifies admiration and sympathy.
Yellow: Joy
Rosebuds: Beauty, youth and a heart innocent of love.
2 Roses taped or wired together: Engagement or Coming Marriage

Required Reading for Italian-Americans...

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