I’ve always been a dreamer. Someone who delights in seeing people in love, perhaps this is why I prefer writing about romance and happily ever after’s. Monday is the day we celebrate Valentine’s Day…and I have a few thoughts about the history of this day.
First of all, many believe the first Valentines were not related to love at all. Valentine was more often found in relation to Christian martyrs and/or ancient Rome. Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome are those who are said to be celebrated on February 14th. Even a third martyr name Valentine has been mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia but little is known of him. Legend has it that one St. Valentine is said to have written what was thought to be the first Valentine to his beloved the night before his execution for refusing to be converted to paganism.
Geoffrey Chaucier, the great Englishman of the 1300, is credited with the first officially known reference to Valentine’s Day in his Parlement of Foules in 1382.
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Translated to modern English it says "For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate." He supposedly wrote this to honor the romance of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, both 15 years of age when they married.
Even a “High Court of Love” existed in Paris in 1400 where judges of the court were selected based on poetry readings and handled cases of love contracts, violence against women and love betrayals. Amazing isn’t it!
While the oldest known Valentine’s Day card is on display in British Museum, the cards of Esther A. Howland of America are the first commercially produced…with real bits of lace and ribbon. She is affectionately known as the Mother of the Valentine. I have seen some of these cards and they are elaborate yet not too elaborate…sweet and sentimental actually.
Jump ahead to modern times and Valentine’s Day is a day to send a loved one sweets, paper cards (hand-made or commercial) and flowers. This commercial tradition is well represented in America. In England Jack Valentine often leaves treats at children’s doorsteps. Across the globe most countries celebrate a version of such…gifts of chocolate for their loved ones and friends, romantic dinners, cards exchanged. It is reported that approximately one billion cards are exchanged each year!
According to Wikipedia, some countries do not celebrate Valentine’s Day as it has often been considered a Christian holiday.
Honestly, I never had thought of it as a long-standing holiday based on these time honored dates in history. To me, as a child it meant wonderful and silly cards in the classroom exchanged by friends…and a party day with cookies and Kool-Aid. As a teenager it meant hoping someone would give me a card or flowers…perhaps that unrequited love would finally find me. As an adult it was the traditional flowers or chocolates I’d receive then later the tradition turned to giving gifts to my children.
As a romance writer, it is a day symbolic of love. Love of a child, a dear friend, a lover or spouse, or a love of life. A date set aside to let someone know you care. No candy or cards or flowers are necessary (although some may disagree LOL), but make sure you let those you love know you love them. Then again, shouldn’t we do this every day?
Ya know, flowers would look nice on my desk,