Happy Valentine’s Day!
One dozen red roses. A heart-shaped, red box of chocolates. Sexy red lingerie. Cupid’s bow. All of these red things point to the special day set aside for lovers – Valentine’s Day. Add to that dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant and an early night, if you know what I mean, and you get the one day when we go all out to show someone just how much we love them. But, how did Valentine’s Day get started and why is it associated with the color red?
My research turned up a bit of a macabre beginning to Valentine’s Day that started in ancient Roman times[i]. It seems there was something called the Feast of Lupercalia that was celebrated on Feb 13-15 by sacrificing animals and beating women in an effort to make them more fertile. I’ll pass on that “celebration”. There are a few different stories about how the Valentine’s Day we have come to know actually began, but I did find out that the card-giving part of the holiday began in England in the mid-1800s and spread to America soon after that. Chocolates have long been considered an aphrodisiac and it was Cadbury in 1861 who was the first chocolatier to offer a heart-shaped box for these stimulating, sugary treats. But, why the color red?
Red is the color most commonly associated with love, with pink following a distant second. Red is also the symbolic color of the heart and, of course, the heart has symbolized love for centuries. But, there are some other things about red that make it the perfect choice to represent Valentine’s Day. Red is the color of celebration and ceremony and Valentine’s Day has a lot of both of these. Red is also a color used to signify importance, as in rolling out the red carpet for distinguished guests. Certainly, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate someone important to us. I guess when you look at these connections, it is easy to see why red and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand (pun intended). However, the many meanings of red transcend what we typically think about this color and may shed some light on the deeper meaning of it in our lives.
The Metaphysical Side of Red
Many of us may not realize it, but we are affected by frequencies around us or that are created by us. The effect these frequencies have on us depends on whether our energy centers, or chakras, are open or blocked. The word chakra comes from an ancient Indian language known as Sanskrit and means vortex or spinning wheel. Chakras are the major energy centers and spiritual power in the human body. When they are blocked, our metaphysical, or non-physical, body is considered out of balance. In this condition, we may experience physical, emotional or spiritual health challenges. When our chakras are balanced, our overall health is also balanced and we thrive.
From an energetic frequency, or metaphysical, perspective, red can affect us in various ways. Knowing what those are may be the keys to understanding how we can begin healing our physical, emotional and spiritual selves to live a more vital and joyful life. For instance, red is the energy center located near the base of the spine and is also known as the root chakra. When it is balanced we feel grounded and centered. Red also symbolizes energy, action, confidence, courage and change. However, when this chakra is out of balance, or blocked, we may experience a lack of energy, anger, anxiety, frustration or fear.
Let’s say you are feeling angry or you “blow a gasket” on a regular basis, it could be that your root chakra needs some love and attention. To rebalance your red energy, you could eat root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, potatoes, parsnips and radishes. You could also add green to your surroundings or immerse yourself in green, like spending an afternoon at a park, to balance out your red since green is the compliment to red. Finally, you can always close your eyes and imagine your red root chakra slowly spinning with dirt specks on it. Gently blow these away using visualization and see the spinning red disk going faster and faster as it gets cleaner and cleaner. (This really works!)
The color red is certainly something to pay attention to. It is linked to our deepest and most primitive emotional and physical needs of survival. As such, bringing our attention to this powerful color and the various implications it can have on our lives may just be what we need to begin treating ourselves with as much love as we give to others this Valentine’s Day. We deserve it.
[i] Lee, Jolie, “Cupid, chocolates, red roses: Valentine’s traditions explained”, USA Today, 14 February 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/02/13/valentines-day-traditions-chocolates-roses-cupid/5370383/#, Accessed 11 February 2016.