Ancient symbols, gory origins and the most unique gestures of love

What does cupid have to do with it?

Cupid, also known as Cupid (“love”) in Latin, is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection. He is often depicted as Mars, the god of war, and as the son of Venus, the goddess of love.

Its Greek counterpart is Eros and it is just one of the ancient symbols associated with Valentine’s Day along with the shape of a heart, doves and the colors red and pink.

Today he is typically depicted as a small winged figure wielding a bow and arrow, striking people’s hearts. People who fall in love are said to have been “struck by Cupid’s arrow.”

Why is the heart associated with love?

The heart was once associated with both knowledge and feelings: the Egyptians believed that the heart was the source of our memories as well as our emotions. They placed so much importance on the organ that they kept it in people’s bodies during mummification, while throwing away all other organs, including the brain. And they weren’t the only ones – Aristotle also believed that the heart was an organ of the intellect.

This idea was widely accepted until Galen, a Roman physician, said that the heart was responsible for emotion rather than reason – apart from love, which was found in the liver.

As the influence of Christianity grew in the Middle Ages, so did the connection between heart and love in religion. “Polite love,” in which knights courted women, became popular in the eleventh century and was associated with spiritual attainments.

It became popular in lyrical poems written by troubadours such as William of Aquitaine, one of the first troubadour poets. Some say he was probably influenced by similar views on love in the Islamic world that he came into contact with during the First Crusade.

In 1184 the poet Andreas Capallenus described the organ as an organ of affection and wrote “the pure love that unites the hearts of two lovers with every feeling of happiness”.

Around the same time, members of European families began to insist that their hearts be buried separately from the rest of their bodies in places that were special to them. In 1199, King Richard I of England had his heart buried in Rouen, Normandy, and his body in Anjou, where his father was buried.

Throughout the ages, the notion that the heart is associated with emotions has persisted, and the two are now inextricably linked.

When did Valentine’s Day become so commercial?

In the mid-18th century, Valentine’s Day in England began to gain momentum, when lovers sent sweets and cards adorned with flowers, ribbons and images of cupids and birds.

Eventually, countless printed maps replaced the handwritten ones. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass-producing Valentine’s Day cards.

Now about a billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year and it’s the second largest seasonal card mailing time of the year.

But not all cards are meant to be read: every year thousands of letters addressed to Juliet are sent to Verona, home of Shakespeare’s fictional Romeo and Juliet.

Why do some people leave anonymous valentines cards?

This trend was started by the Victorians, who thought it was bad luck to sign Valentine’s cards with their names.

The Victorians also started the rose donation trend. They were the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and represent passion and romance.

Today, around 50 million roses are given on Valentine’s Day every year. But of course there are people who don’t get cards, flowers or gifts on Valentine’s Day. In 2016, a teenager solved this problem by buying 900 carnations and giving them to all the girls at his school.

If you want to break with tradition and pass on red roses, opt for a delicious Valentine’s Day treat instead…

Here’s how to woo your love interest on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, sometimes a bouquet just isn’t enough — you need a grand romantic gesture, writes Helen O’Hara. For inspiration, here are some of the best ever caught on film:

His Girl Friday (1940) – The plan within the plan

A real contender for the title of greatest rom-com of all time and certainly the quickest witted. The climax here is when celebrity reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) realizes her editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (Cary Grant) orchestrated her quest to be a scoop, leading her to sabotage her plans to remarry as well. Instead of raging at such boldness, she gratefully falls into his arms. It’s a beautifully executed little twist that makes it clear that the two are in cahoots, even if they seem to be working against each other.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – The Shakespearean-esque sonnet

Heath Ledger’s terrific performance of I Love You Baby is often referenced in this film in terms of romantic gestures — but that’s a lark that’s relatively easy to laugh at. When it comes to standing up for the other half, Julia Stiles’ Kat takes the bigger risks. First, she flashes a teacher to give Ledgers Patrick a chance to escape detention. Then she reads no less than a sonnet, revealing her feelings for him to her entire class. The courage required is almost unthinkable.

Beauty and the Beast (1991) – The Library

Belle (Paige O’Hara) isn’t particularly materialistic in this Oscar-nominated animation, but she’s as vulnerable as the next bookworm to the gift of a whole, massive library. This one comes with a comfy sofa by the fire and sweeping baroque stairs to shelves that stretch some 200 feet into the air. That the Beast (Robbie Benson) – previously cranky and hostile – presents his revelation with a charming dose of shyness and hope makes it all the sweeter. He was originally cursed for his selfishness, so the thought counts even more here.

How Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world

While Britons tend to think of red roses, cheesy cards and chocolates when they think of Valentine’s Day, some countries around the world celebrate love differently and have their own traditions.

In Denmark, couples exchange pressed white flowers called snowdrops, while in the Philippines, weddings and renewal ceremonies are on the rise on romantic days, with couples gathering in malls and other public places to tie the knot.

In South Africa, women literally wear their hearts on their sleeves on Valentine’s Day by pinning the names of their love interests to their shirts.

China celebrates its own version of Valentine’s Day called Qiki, when young women make offerings of fruit to Zhinu, daughter of a heavenly king, in hopes of finding their perfect mate.

In Brazil, on June 12, they celebrate Dia dos Namorados, which translates as “Day of Lovers,” with music festivals and performances, while in Argentina they celebrate love for a whole week in July, dubbed “Week of Sweetness.”

Single on Valentine’s Day and looking for love?

If you are single and looking for love, look no further than online dating. Any stigma that might have surrounded finding love online has been banished, and going on a mid-week Tinder date is no longer something people need to lie about.

But with so much choice out there, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? We’ve selected the 20 best dating apps to help you find your perfect match.

This article has been updated with the latest Valentine’s Day 2022 advice. Ancient symbols, gory origins and the most unique gestures of love

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