The history of Valentines Day is somewhat obscure because several early Christian martyrs were actually named Valentine. The first, Valentine of Terni, became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197, was martyred under the Emperor Aurelian and is buried on the Roman Via Flaminia. The second, Valentine of Rome, was a Roman priest who was martyred around AD 269 by the Emperor Claudius II and is also buried on the Via Flaminia. The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions a third Saint Valentine, executed in Africa along with a number of companions on February 14, year unknown. Nothing is known about their lives or the deeds of any of these Valentines and the name "Valentine" (Priest Valentio) does not occur in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, compiled in AD 354.
The church holiday of St. Valentine was established on February 14 by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496. It is a common opinion that the Christian church may have decided to Christianise celebrations of the pagan fertility festival Lupercalia celebrated between February 13-15, by creating a feast day for one or more of the Valentines "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God".
Saint Valentine next surfaces in history when he/they appear in the Legenda Aurea, a medieval bestseller written around 1260 by Jacobus de Voragine. According to this embellished version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Emperor Claudius II in person, who attempted to get him to convert to paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and instead tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, resulting in his immediate execution by stoning and beheading. However, it is in the hands of Geoffrey Chaucer during the Middle Ages that Valentines Day becomes inextricably associated with the concept of romantic love. In the poem Parlement of Foules, written in 1382 to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, Chaucer wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make. [For this was saint Valentine's day When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.]
Since then, the legend of St Valentine has been further embroidered to ultimately portray Valentine as an heroic and rebellious priest who secretly performed marriage ceremonies against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, who rather fiendishly wanted the young men of Rome to remain single in order to better swell the ranks of his armies. Valentine was arrested and thrown in jail and on the evening before his execution wrote the first ever "valentine", addressed to his jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed of blindness. It was a note that read (wait for it) "From your Valentine".
St Valentine continued to make appearances in literature (Shakespeare's Hamlet and John Donne's Epithalamion are two notable examples) whenever a symbol for romantic love was required. However the sending of valentines became very fashionable in nineteenth-century Victorian England and from there the practice quickly spread to America, at which time hand-made valentines as declarations of love were supplanted by mass produced greeting cards, a custom that has persisted to the modern day with the practice of exchanging cards now extended to romantic gifts such as roses and chocolates, and rather alarmingly in the United States, diamond jewellery. This blatant attempt at comercialisation by the diamond industry was referenced in a Simpson's Valentines Day episode. Apu attempts to woo his unhappy wife back with seven days worth of fantastic Valentine gifts, each one more spectacular than the last, prompting a mutiny by the other men of Springfield who feel that they have been made to look inadequate and cheap by his actions.
Humorous and anti commercial at the same time
According to the Greeting Card Association via Wikipedia, approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Although we may never know the real story of the historical Valentines, their legacy of love and more importantly of sacrifice can inspire us today to be the best we can possibly be.
The world's smallest (nano) valentine on the planet, observed and photographed by physicists at the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory , is only 8 nanometers in size and made of palladium. Source: Daily Galaxy's Casey Kazan via PhysOrg.com
Linda has a Honours degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of NSW, Australia. She has travelled extensively and is a passionate writer on subjects as diverse as the role played by women throughout history, tribal communities and their customs, symbology and ethnology, talismans and their history. Occasionally she also writes about her travel experiences, her new life on a 25 acres in the Northern Rivers region of northern Australia and her black miniature poodle Phoenix. She is currently writing her first book on talismans.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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