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Valentine's Day is right around the corner and love is in the air! Every 14th of February, the day of romance sweeps the world off its feet, and couples everywhere show their love for one another. But where does the holiday that has $20billion spent on it come from? What’s the history behind it?
A lot of the history is pretty rocky since it supposedly dates back to the Roman era. Key word, supposedly. A Roman Emperor called Claudius, wanted a strong army. He knew that young men made the best soldiers, and so he banned them from getting married. The theory was that, if they had no wives, then they probably wouldn’t have any kids. Either way, they wouldn’t have anything to hold them back from going to war. Enter Valentine (which was a common name back then), a Saint. Seeing the injustice in this ban, Saint Valentine decided he would secretly marry people against the word of the law. How romantic!
Unfortunately, he was caught and imprisoned for his treachery to the Roman Empire, which is a lot less romantic.
Whilst he was imprisoned, he grew quite fond of his captor’s blind daughter. Now I know what you’re thinking, of all the people he could have picked… he picks his captor’s daughter? Not a smart move buddy. The legend says that Saint Valentine cured her of her blindness, consequently converting her entire family into Christians.
Unfortunately for Saint Valentine this wasn’t quite enough for his captor, and so he was still executed. But on his final day, he wrote his captor’s daughter a letter, signing it off as “Your Valentine,” Kind of romantic? I guess? I imagine there were some awkward talks between the daughter and her father.
Saint Valentine was then buried by a nearby highway, supposedly around the time of Valentine's day.
Although that’s how the story goes, there’s very little evidence to suggest that this is the cause of Valentine's day itself, though who am I to tell you what to believe in?
What is fact however, is a poet called Geoffrey Chaucer, who lived around the second half of the 1300’s. He and his literary circle first linked celebrations of love and romance to February 14th, and he is also known as the first person to connect Valentine's day to Saint Valentine. Chaucer wrote a 699 line poem (which really enrages my slight-OCD) called Parlement of Foules, which is known as one of the earliest Valentine’s poems.
There is one other Roman link to Valentines day, kind of, and that is Venus! No, not the planet, the goddess. The Romans (like the Greeks) had lots of gods for different things. Venus was the goddess of love and beauty. It actually makes sense that the planet was named after her, since it’s the planet that shines the brightest from the Earth. A side note, it’s the only planet that’s named after a goddess, the others being named after gods, but I digress. Gods, and goddesses, all had their own symbols, and Venus’ was the rose, the color red, and strawberries.
We love talking about fruit here, and we’ve finally got one to talk about, so strap on your seatbelts. Strawberries are known for being natural aphrodisiacs, which means they help people get more in the “Valentine’s mood” to be coy. Another very common aphrodisiac is chocolate, so it makes sense people use it to cover strawberries in. It’s important to note that aphrodisiacs don’t really have much scientific basis, that is to say, they probably don’t work, at least not how we think they do. However, the power of the placebo effect is very real. The placebo effect essentially means that because you are told something will happen when you do something, it actually does happen. It’s a weird effect, because we’re essentially tricking ourselves into behaving differently, but it has a lot of basis behind it, and strangely it can work pretty well.
Strawberries are small, bright red and are kind of shaped like a drop. Though rare, it is possible to find heart-shaped strawberries too, so it makes sense why it’s the symbol of Venus. They’re very juicy and very sweet; though surprisingly have a low amount of sugar, which means you can consume a lot of them. You can also get them delivered straight to your office.
Strawberries have numerous health benefits.
Firstly, they’re an excellent source of Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid. It helps protect cells and keeps them healthy. Furthermore it’ll maintain healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. It even helps promote healing wounds.
Secondly, they contain a lot of manganese. Manganese helps with some of the enzymes in your body, by producing them and activating them. Enzymes are proteins which carry out chemical reactions in our body.
It also helps forming connective tissue and bones, whilst boosting your reproductive system and immune response. Manganese has a role in ensuring your blood clots normally (like Vitamin K)
They have a decent amount of folate (Vitamin B9). This helps the body form healthy red blood cells; something that carries oxygen across your body. It also reduces the risk of neural tube defects, which can affect unborn babies.
Strawberries also contain a lot of Potassium, which helps balance the level of fluids in our body. Suitably for Valentine’s day, it also helps the heart work properly! Or well, it helps the muscles in it work properly. If you’re alone for Valentine's day like me, I doubt eating strawberries will help much at all (don’t ask how I know, I just do).
They also are very rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants, as the name might suggest, fight off oxidization. Free Radicals are atoms that react very easily with other molecules, building up in these molecules and damaging them. They can be harmful to things such as DNA and proteins. They also react with Oxygen. If there are too many free radicals, they can react with the oxygen in our body much quicker than we can detoxify the bad oxygen. This is what’s called having high oxidative stress. Antioxidants help fight off this process, making sure our body stays in tip top shape.
Well there you have it folks, there’s a brief history of Valentine's day, from poetry to the Romans, and then concluding off with the beautiful strawberries that we sell. I hope that that everyone has a good rest of their week!