Many people, including myself, think that Valentine's day was invented by card shops, so I thought I'd do a little research into where it actually started. 

Pen drawing by Adam Elsheimer (1578–1610). The Lupercalian Festival in Rome: Cupid and Personifications of Fertility encounter the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats.

Pen drawing by Adam Elsheimer (1578–1610). The Lupercalian Festival in Rome: Cupid and Personifications of Fertility encounter the Luperci dressed as dogs and goats.

Lupercalia, as it was called, was an ancient pagan festival held every year on February 15. This "lovers' holiday" traces its roots to Roman times where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility.

Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk. The two men would then laugh. A sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the victims and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile. 

Certainly not my idea of a romantic evening but those old Romans had some strange ideas! Clearly, that sort of thing would quite rightly be classed as serious abuse these days. There seem to be lots of different stories about how Valentine's day as we know it today was born, but it's interesting to see that the day has some roots at least in something that maybe wasn't just invented by card shops and chocolate manufacturers!

I suppose I should be thanking those 19th century card manufacturers really as Valentines day is always a busy time for me, but I do believe that showing someone that you love them shouldn't just be on one day. I've gone a bit dark and gothic with my valentine collection this year, which will continue to be available after February the 14th, should you want to treat your loved one or yourself at any other time. If you click on the images below you should be taken to my Etsy shop where you can browse all of my "ready to wear" collections, or visit the rest of the website at www.annaclifton.com if you would like to commission something unique. 

If jewellery isn't your thing, then here's some gorgeous UK made alternatives....




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