Valentines Day – past & Present!

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St Valentine is a name we all recognize as a symbol of love and romance. We even have a day on February 14 named after it and, giving us a good excuse to express our most romantic side by showering our loved ones with cards and gifts. Valentines day can be a way to show our true love towards those most precious to us, but what are its origins and has it always been this way?

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St Valentines day links back to Christianity and martyrdom. Many early Christian martyrs were named Valentine and were subsequently honoured the customary public worship on various dates  by various  Christian denominations. The Valentines honoured on February 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, with another St Valentine mentioned by the Catholic Church who was martyred in Africa.

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The legend of Saint Valentine of Rome is perhaps the most popular account of why love and romance is associated with St Valentines Day on February 14. The story goes that the Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage so that there were plenty of unattached young men available to fight as soldiers. Valentine of Rome fought against this and the general persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire by performing secret marriage ceremonies. When eventually found out, Valentine was imprisoned  but managed to heal his Jailer’s blind daughter who frequently visited him. It is said that he wrote her a letter before his execution and signed it “Your Valentine”, a statement still used today on valentine cards sent from admirers around the world!

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The celebrating of Valentines day evolved over time and the giving and receiving of gifts and cards originated in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th century!

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In the late 184o’s, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts sold this British  idea to the United States after receiving a card from an English admirer. She took inspiration from his fanciful card and began importing  floral decorations, ribbon and paper lace from England to begin the first mass-produced valentines cards. The famous American company card makers, Hallmark,  first began producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1916 and Hallmark Card Statistics estimate that 144 million cards were sent in 2013 alone, coming only second to Christmas cards sent!!

 

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‘Love Locks’ are a new phenomena that are quickly becoming popular around the world to express ones love! Couples usually secure a padlock bearing their names along a bridge or similar spot and throw away the key. They are thought to have  originated in Hungary and are supposed to represent hearts locking together in eternal and everlasting love!

 

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Valentine’s Day gifts have even evolved further and short breaks and holidays have now been introduced to celebrate this most romantic of days. Valentine’s Day is just round the corner so what better way to celebrate your undying love for someone than by sharing some of the most beautiful and romantic destinations with them, and create wonderful memories which will last a lifetime!

Raz

5 Outstanding Places to Visit in Britain!

1.London

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London at twilight

 

 London can certainly be described as one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the whole world!  The capital city of England and the United Kingdom is the most populous city in the United Kingdom and Europe‘s most visited city, attracting over 14 million international visitors per year!! Some of the top attractions people come to see include the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. They come to marvel at the National History and National Maritime Museums, the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, WOW – so many museums. They come to be intrigued at Madame Tussauds and delighted by the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London! Also, not forgetting Big Ben and other famous landmarks including Piccadilly Circus, Nelson’s Column and the lions of Trafalgar Square. Finish a visit by  exploring Knightsbridge, home to Harrods and many other stylish shops and boutiques, and a wander around  the famous Hyde Park!

2.York

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York Minster

 

If it’s history you are into, a visit to Medieval York is an absolute  must. This ancient city offers an abundance of historic attractions which  has made it a popular tourist destination for millions of people over the years. York’s tourist attractions include the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, York Maze, Holy Trinity Church, and of course, the majestic York Minster, England’s largest medieval cathedral. Walk inside the city walls and view the magnificent Gothic York Minster before making your way round the famous crooked ‘Shambles’. Walking tours also offer fascinating insights, stories and history of the city, whilst their famous ‘Ghost Walks’ will also tell you about its chilling, ghostly past!

3. Bath

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Roman Baths

 

Visit the  Georgian City of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring some of the finest architecture in Europe and admire the wonderful Georgian architecture it has to offer.  Visit the Roman baths from which the city derives its name and hot mineral-rich springs that have been popular since Roman times. Join the 1 million international tourists which visit every year and experience a  guided walking tour of the town, learning about the historical significance of the region and soaking up the decadent atmosphere.

 4. Lake District

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Lake District

 

Admire the stunning views when you visit the beautiful English Lake District. Take a scenic drive through the Lake District National Park, inspiration to a host of poets including William Wordsworth. Wordsworth lived in a beautiful cottage in the village of Grasmere and the wonderful surrounding scenery provided William Wordsworth with the inspiration to write the poem ‘Daffodils’. Admire the glorious lakes including Windermere and Coniston Waters,  the scene of many attempts to break the world water speed record. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the many fells, hills, and groups of mountains  found in the  Lake District and experience the stunning views that will stay with you forever!

5.Stonehenge

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Mystical Stonehenge

 

 Cross Salisbury Plain to visit Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, and stand in awe at the mystical stone monoliths. This ancient stone circle has baffled scientists, tourists and historians for centuries and new theories are surfacing all the time about its mythical past. Admire and enjoy this magnificent monument for what it is now and acknowledge that its true meaning may never be known!

5 Famous Film Locations to Visit!

1.Ouarzazate, Morocco

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Visit amazing Ouarzazate in Morocco which boasts the setting for a number of famous movies which include ‘Cleopatra’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’,  and ‘Gladiator’!

2.Salzburg, Austria

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Delight in the stunning lakes and mountains that surround Salzburg in Austria, not forgetting that it was the location for one of the most famous movies in the world – ‘The Sound of Music’.

3.Rome, Italy

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Something to really take your breath away would be a visit to Rome, one of the most beautiful and historical cities to behold. Rome has been the setting for many films such as ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley and ‘The Belly of an Architect’, but it is the exquisite ‘Roman Holiday’ starring the film star legends Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck that really brings the city to life!

4.Provence. France

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The beautiful region of Provence is a stunningly picturesque province of southeastern France and was the wonderful backdrop for the romantic film ‘A Good Year’ starring Marion Cottillard and Russell Crowe.

5.Venice, Italy

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Last but not least is the glorious city of Venice which is situated in northeastern Italy. This unique and beautiful city has been a favourite setting for not one, but three Bond movies over the years. Bond is seen in Venice at the end of ‘From Russia with Love’ (1963); he is seen riding a gondola in Venice in ‘Moonraker’ (1979); and Venice is again the backdrop for the climactic scenes in the more recent ‘Casino Royale’ (2006).