Italy wins, hands down, when it comes to St. Valentine’s day. Not only do many of the legends derive from Roman history (San Valentino and Cupido), the Italians continue to promote and celebrate the holiday (Settimana d’Amore).
San Valentino: Valere, in Latin means to be in good health, not to be in love...? Here is the story, around the year 273 A.D. San Valentino was pretty famous for his healing powers. He had recently healed the son of Crotone, a famous Athenian orator. In fact, his home in Rome was known as the place for healing Catholics. Valentino also became known as the symbol for the protection of lovers when he married Sabino and Serepia. Theirs was most definitely a forbidden love, as one was Christian and the other was Pagan. When Serepia became ill with tuberculosis Sabino called on Valentino, who lifted Serepia from her deathbed and united the two eternally. Awh, Love Never Ends! Why do we celebrate on February 14th? Unfortunately that is not the date of the infamous wedding, it is the date that San Valentino was beheaded as a sacrifice to the gods by those who did agree with San Valentino’s beliefs. San Valentino is buried on a hill in Terni, Italy, where now the church of San Valentino stands. Love is Stronger than Hate!
Cupido: also belongs to the Romans - in this case Roman mythology. Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of Love. Despite Cupid’s mother’s jealousy of Psyche, Cupid married her. But he had one condition, that she could never look at him. Cupid visited Pysche only at night, so she couldn’t see him. But, Pysche’s sisters convinced her to look at Cupid, so she lit a lamp one night to see him. Cupid left her (side note: don’t listen to your sisters!).
Pysche was desperate and searched in vain for Cupid. She happened upon Venus’ temple and Venus, now even less impressed with Pysche, gave her numerous difficult tasks. The last one was to deliver a small box to the underworld and get some beauty from Prosperine. And, under no circumstance, to open the box. But, curiosity was Pysche’s Achilles’ tendon, and alas, she opened the box. There was nothing in the box, but deadly slumber (yes, an early version of Sleeping Beauty).
Cupid’s love was true, and he too was desolate without Pysche. He came upon her lifeless body, and forgave her for disobeying him. He swept the deadly slumber back into the box. In the end, the gods made Pysche a goddess too. Yes, they did live happily ever after! So, if you are hit by one of Cupid’s arrows, do not despair, you too will fall in love!
Settimana d’Amore: And to celebrate true love, the Italian Train Company, TrenItalia offers the Settimana D’Amore. The slogan is ParTiAmo - a play on words. Partiamo means Let’s Leave, and Ti Amo means I love you! During the week of February 8 - 14 you and your loved one can buy two train tickets for the price of one to go to your romantic getaway! What a great idea.
Love is Stronger than Hate!
Love Never Ends!
Love Needs to be Celebrated!
Celebrate your love in Italia!