1) What do you know about St Valentine's Day. Discuss with a friend everything you know about this festivity (date, origins, people's typical way of celebrating).
2) Watch the video through (without stopping). Some parts might be a bit difficult, but listen through it so that you can get a general idea of the documentary.
3) Watch the video for a second time (or as many times as you wish). Say whether the statements 1-7 below are true or false.
1. St Valentine's Day contains vestiges of the early Christian church in ancient Rome.
2. Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St Valentine’s Day in the 15th century.
3. Emperor Claudius II banned (prohibited) marriages.
4. Claudius II sentenced Father Valentine to death.
5. Father Valentine was born on 14th February.
6. Americans give 180 millions roses on Valentine's Day.
7. Valentine's Day brings in 40 billions dollars annually.
4) Now you can check your answers with the transcript below.
5) Discuss with a friend or record yourself answering these questions:
How do you celebrate St Valentine's Day?
How do your family or friends celebrate it?
What would your ideal Valentine's Day be like?
Do you think lovers really need a day to proclaim their love or is it just business?
Ah love! While it might not be what makes the world go round, it is what makes the ride worthwhile. Maybe that’s why billions of people throughout the centuries have seen fit to dedicate an entire day to grand gestures of romance… with Valentine’s Day, the only holiday best celebrated in pairs.
For all its popularity, history doesn’t give us any guarantees as to the origins of Valentine’s Day. But we do know it contains vestiges of early Christian church in ancient Rome. The association between mid-February and romance goes back to a Pagan festival known as Lupercalia, likely honouring either Lupa, the she-wolf of Rome who suckled Romulus and Renus, or Faunus, their god of fertility.
The festivities begin with an animal sacrifice. Then the ritualistic slapping of young women with strips of the animal’s skin and blood to bestow fertility for the coming year. In the 5th century, perhaps in an effort to christianise the pagan festival Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St Valentine’s Day.
As for the real St Valentine there are reportedly several cannonised by the Church. Legend has it that one said Valentine, a defiant Roman priest, lived during the 3rd century AD under emperor Claudius II. Claudius was an ambitious ruler. His battles required vast armies of men to abandon their young families for long periods of time, resulting in a military that was half-hearted and home-sick. So determined was Claudius to stop love from sapping the will of his armies that he banned marriages altogether. Father Valentine found the ban unjust and defied the emperor, continuing to marry young lovers in secret. The emperor finally caught on the priest’s actions, arrested him, and sentenced him to death. It is believed that young couples he had secretly wed would visit his cell, passing him flowers and notes to the bars as symbols of gratitude. The story continues that the condemned father Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. On February 14th, the day he was executed, it is said he passed the young girl a note. It was signed “from your Valentine”. A tradition was born.
Cupid, the wind match-maker, started out as the Roman god of love, inspired the images of cherubs for Christians and is now a favourite of card makers and mass marketers. Our modern Valentine’s Day, removed from its religious and pagan past, has evolved into one of the most celebrated holidays on the calendar. On average, American shower their loved ones with 180 million roses, red ones naturally. And almost 36 million of heart-shaped boxes of candy, not to mention all those cards, dinners and diamonds.
All told, the holiday brings in almost 14 billion dollars annually, giving retailers plenty to love as well. But if you’re worried that you can’t afford to treat your loved one properly next Valentine’s Day, take heart. The poets were right: Love is really all you need.