Dr. Shaliin Ap, Dept. of Social Psychology, Imperial University of Sylea, in a public lecture, 044-0016:
The mingling of Solomani and Vilani cultures in the Second Imperium had some curious effects. Terrans were quick to appreciate the Vilani shugilii and their associated customs, perhaps because of similarities to cooks and chefs on Old Earth. The Vilani, although rather more conservative than their Solomani conquerors, came to adopt a number of Terran customs as their own. Most widely accepted was the concept of Valentine's Day, held on 14 February (Terran) and now on Day 45 of the Imperial Calendar.
One of the difficulties in Vilani society at the time of the Ramshackle Empire was its rigidity; Vilani simply had difficulty in stepping outside the bounds of traditionally "proper" behaviour. This was in part an inheritance of the Ziru Sirka's culture, but was also a reaction to the frighteningly loose and direct culture of the Solomani. At the same time, Solomani mores did strike a chord of horror mixed with admiration, especially among the younger and lower-class elements of Vilani society.
It was the inevitable mixing between young people which introduced Vilani to the idea of Valentine's Day as a day for declaring, um, romantic feelings. The stepping out of character was rather a thrill, but (crucially) stepping back into the Vilani cultural mould was also a relief. Thus, Valentine's Day contributed not to the breakup of Vilani culture but instead to a gentle adaption of it, an adaption so successful that before the Long Night fell, it had spread to huge numbers of worlds throughout the Second Imperium.
This is only one example of the cultural integration which has made our own Imperium such a cosmopolitan inheritor of empire, but it is unusual for one reason in particular: it's possible to measure its spread rather accurately. Obviously, the Long Night has played havoc with records, but Valentine's Day has a rather more tangiable image.
The symbol of the Terran festival was a stylised heart. For some reason -- perhaps their relative disinterest in medical science and anatomy -- this did not appeal to the Vilani, who latched onto a secondary symbol, that of the rose. This is a flower believed to be of Terran origin, and which was almost unobtainable at the time, and hence a rather tangiable symbol of affection, given its expense. Most people had to make do with the symbol of the rose. I could give examples from the holovideo industry of how the rose became a symbol of romance... however, suffice it to say that roses and love became linked in the public imagination.
I suppose it was inevitable that some tidy-minded Vilani would wish for roses which grew quickly and lasted once cut. It was equally inevitable that sooner or later a Solomani geneticist would produce one, the plant we know as Valentine's Rose. Once the plant existed, it was certain that Vilani and Solomani alike would sell it wherever the market would bear. This plant, therefore, is an indicator of the spread of Solomani influence in the Rule of Man. Furthermore, mutation patterns can also be traced, giving us an idea of the patterns of distribution of the rose.
As you can see, the tiny plant which I placed at my left elbow at the start of this lecture is now quite a respectable bloom. Tomorrow I shall give it to a certain geneticist of Solomani extraction. I'm sure many of you will be making similar gestures, though not to the same person I hope. Please, when you do, think of the Imperium and how the rose has pulled us together. Then you can go back to thinking about... other things.
Before I conclude, I should like to thank Dr. Felissa Jones of the Biotechnology department here at Imperial, our generous sponsors at the Office of Calendar Compliance, and of course yourselves for your attentive listening and generous applause. I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day tomorrow, Twoday 45th of His Imperial Majesty's sixteenth year of goverment. Long live the Emperor!
There are some obvious adventuring opportunities which arise from the existence of Valentine's Rose, which must be one of the most important cargoes to deliver on time the players can haul. Fragile, too...
There may be a mutant strain which has a mildly aphrodisiac scent.
There may still be a market for the much rarer Terran rose, if any can be found.