December 21, 2005 The day for lovers, Valentines Day, like so many other aspects of modern life, emanated from the Romans. Every February in ancient Rome, a feast was held to honour the goddess Juno. The names of young women were put into an urn and drawn by lottery to match a single male. The matched couples would be considered partners for the year, and those who wished could enter the draw again the next year for a new partner. The Catholic Church was keen to eradicate these heathen practices so in 496AD, Pope Gelasius declared the day in honour of St. Valentine and promoted it as a day for lovers. St Valentine was a martyr who had been stoned to death for marrying couples in defiance of the insane emperor Claudius II who had outlawed marriage on the basis that the existence of families made soldiers reluctant to go to war. It’s hardly a heart-warming tale, and certainly not one to match the sentiments normally expressed on the day, though when you consider that 60% of marriages end in divorce, we think the original idea might be worth a revisit. In more modern times, several time-honoured practices have evolved, including the sending of love letters on the day and the giving of watches, with the world’s oldest watch manufacturer (BlancPain) commemorating the day each year with a very special limited edition woman’s timepiece. Don’t ask the price though.
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