We are back to a full posting schedule, having devoted most of January to the finalization of our upcoming book, followed by a short trip out to California the beginning of this month. Time just flies, especially when there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in all that is necessary for this big book project. We needed to recharge our batteries, recenter and refocus on what we really love to do – sharing what we have learned with all of you, our friends and family. That’s why we chose to include one of our favorite Valentine’s Day recipes (which will be in our new book) with all of you.
In researching the origins of Valentine’s Day, we found only very few connections to the modern day observance of this holiday.
Many of us observe Saint Valentine’s Day, generally just referred to as Valentine’s Day, on February 14 through the exchange of cards, flowers, chocolate and other sweets, but don’t give it a second thought as to where this tradition may have started.
It appears that Valentine’s Day was first recognized and established as a holiday by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, but was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.
According to that tradition, February 14 was observed honoring two Christian martyrs, both named Valentine, i.e. Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. The Legenda Aurea tells us that Saint Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emporor Claudius II. Legend has it that Emperor Claudius II secretly admired Valentine and attempted to convert him to Roman paganism in order to spare his life. He failed to do so which led to Valentine’s execution.
So far, where is the love? I could not detect any references to love, or even a remote hint at romanticism. Legenda Aurea possibly forges a connection with today’s Valentine’s Day observations by telling us about Valentine’s secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men serving in Roman Emperor Claudius II’s army. The Emperor had ordered young man to remain single, believing that married men did not make good soldiers. Once discovered, Valentine was arrested and jailed.
Valentine’s Day only gained notoriety with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Love Birds in Parlement de Foules (1382). Chaucer wrote:
“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”
(“For this was St. Valentine’s Day,
when every bird comes there to choose his mate”)
The poem was written to honor the first anniversary of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. Upon their marriage eight months later they had both just turned 15 years old. Mere children! 😉
Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules is set in a fictional context, based on a supposed old tradition. Scholars deny the existence of any historical traditions and they only acknowledge sentimental customs posing as historical facts. Because of this, the idea that Valentine’s Day customs perpetuated those of the Roman Lupercalia has been generally accepted.
Lupercalia was a very ancient pre-Roman pastoral festival, generally celebrated February 13-15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, promoting health and fertility.
The more modern concept of Valentine’s Day is even mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
- 2 cups gluten free flour, consisting of: 1 cup brown rice flour, 3/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 1/3 cup sucanat, or evaporated cane juice
- pinch of Himalaya salt
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 stick + 2 Tbsp. organic butter
- a little extra sweet rice flour for rolling out the dough
- heart-shaped cookie cutters
- jar of organic triple berry jam (raspberry, blackberry, strawberry)
- 1 cup organic powdered sugar
Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. The baked cookies will be light in color, not browned. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack with a spatula.
Allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating them.
Dust the heart shaped cookies, with the center cut out, with powdered sugar. These will become the top part of the finished cookie.
Top the solid heart shape cookie with the triple berry jam, spreading it evenly. You can use your own favorite jam, we loved this one for its exquisite flavor and the color presentation. Place the powdered sugar coated heart shape on top of the jam covered heart cookie to create your Valentine’s Day cookie.
‘Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.’Rumi