Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"A deep stone with many streets, its light holds itself in with blue, then pours carefully, sunlight over the window sill."
~ Leslie Ullman, Amethyst, 1989
The purple amethyst is associated with February and Valentine's Day! It is said that St. Valentine wore a purple amethyst ring with an engraved cupid so that Roman soldiers could recognise him, and ask for his marriage services. The Roman Emperor Claudius II had outlawed marriage between young couples, for he thought that unwed young men made better soldiers as they had no ties to a wife and children. Valentine defied the government’s ban and married couples in secret! 💜
Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz often used in jewelry. The name comes from the Ancient Greek belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. People wore amethyst and even made drinking vessels decorated with it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
Once worn only by royalty, Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for February.
St. Valentine is said to have worn a purple amethyst ring which was usually worn by Christian bishops (as it thought to help enable restraint) with an image of cupid engraved on it. Roman soldiers would see the ring and ask him to marry them. It may have been this association which led to the stone being chosen as the birthstone for the month of February and invested amethyst with special powers to attract love.
In his poem "L'Amethyste, ou les Amours de Bacchus et d'Amethyste" (Amethyst or the loves of Bacchus and Amethyste), the French poet Remy Belleau (1528–1577) invented a myth about the creation of amethyst. In the story, Bacchus, the god of intoxication, of wine, and grapes was pursuing a maiden named Amethyste, who refused his affections.
Amethyste prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Diana answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethyste's steadfast desire to remain chaste, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.
For more about St. Valentine and his amethyst ring, click the painting below.