Valentine’s Day … the holiday of love and romance!
Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on February 14 in many countries around the world. It is a day to remember and honor your loved ones with cards, flowers, candy, etc. I personally think that we should be celebrating our love every day of the year and not just one single day. I know that I feel very happy when my husband brings me flowers unexpectedly … a guaranteed smile on my face!! But, how did this romantic holiday start?
The legend of the patron saint, St. Valentine, goes back many centuries and the origin of the tale has become something of a mystery. One legend says that Valentine was a priest during the third century in Rome. At the time, Emperor Claudius II decided single men made better soldiers and prohibited them from marriage. Valentine defied the Emperor and continued to perform secret marriages for the soldiers. The Emperor discovered this, Valentine was sent to prison and the Emperor ordered his execution. While Valentine was imprisoned he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer and before he was executed, he sent her a note and signed it “from your Valentine”. There are several other stories about Valentine, but he is always portrayed as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic person.
In the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem, “Parlement of Foules”, which is said to be the first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love. By the 15th century, Valentine’s Day had become an occasion for lovers to express their love by presenting flowers, offering confectionery delights and sending handwritten sentimental notes, known as valentines, to their loved ones. By the 19th century, paper valentines became so popular in Victorian England that factories started mass producing greeting cards with popular symbols of love such as: the heart, doves or lovebirds and Cupid with his bow or arrows.
In the United States, it is estimated that 190 million valentines are sent each year making Valentine’s Day the second largest card holiday. According to those statistics, women purchase and send 85 percent of those valentines. Those numbers do not include the mass-produced character themed valentines that students give to each other and their teachers. The idea of exchanging cards has extended into gifts such as: roses, heart-shaped boxes filled with an assortment of chocolates and in the 1980’s the diamond industry began to promote giving jewelry to that special someone! Now, with the Internet, it is estimated in 2010 that over 17 million e-valentines were sent.
l remember as a child, sending and receiving valentines in grammar school! Luckily, my mother saved us boxes filled with our school papers, art projects and within those boxes were the valentines cards from my fellow classmates. It is fun to see the old fashioned style of these 1960s valentines and remembering all those friends from so long ago. I kept up that family tradition of saving the valentines for my kids. For my daughter I found a cute Valentine-themed box and this is where she has saved her valentines from school. Every year she likes to sort through them and remember her old friends back in California and her new friends here.
Do you do any special ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day? I would love to hear from you, send me a comment with your traditions or ideas.