February 7, 2012

Did You Know: Valentine's Day

Welcome to the very first Did You Know? monthly meme hosted by myself and Danielle at motherhood: TRUTH! We will be doing this blog hop the first Tuesday of each month. See Dee's post all about it HERE.


Did you know that Valentine's Day is exactly one week from today?

That's right. It's time to start thinking about showing the love. Do you already know what you want to do for your significant other? Do you have your kids' little classroom cards purchased? Have you thought of a way to let your friends know you love them? What do YOU want for Valentine's Day?

In honor of Happy Hearts Day and Did You Know? I thought it would be highly appropriate to make sure we all understand how this LOVE-ly observance came to be.

Let's start at the beginning with Saint Valentine, shall we?

The all-knowing, all seeing eye Wikipedia tells us:
He was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. Many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.
And Wikipedia goes on to explain the legend thusly:

Expounded briefly in Legenda Aurea... he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer. Since Legenda Aurea still provided no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail.
There is an additional modern embellishment to The Golden Legend, provided by American Greetings to History.com, and widely repeated despite having no historical basis whatsoever. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first "valentine" card himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed. It was a note that read "From your Valentine".
As mentioned above, apparently Chaucer wrote a love poem in honor of the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Behemia. Chaucer wrote, "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."

Then, on Valentine's Day in 1400, a "High Court of Love" was established in Paris.
The court dealt with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading. The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orléans to his wife.
Valentine's Day was mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet (Ophelia). John Donne wrote a poem mentioning "Bishop Valentine" in celebration of another royal marriage. The modern cliche Valentine poem is a derivative of this:

     The rose is red, the violet's blue
     The honey's sweet, and so are you
     Thou are my love and I am thine
     I drew thee to my Valentine
     The lot was cast and then I drew
     And Fortune said it shou'd be you.

I really like that version! Much better than the cutesy ones people make up today.

Valentine postcard, circa 1910
From about 1797 onward we see the evolution of modern valentines. Fancy valentines were made with real lace and ribbons. Then more paper products were introduced, as well as factory made cards. Here in America, we apparently couldn't ONLY exchange greeting cards, we had to also give gifts.

Today, the U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When you include the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities the figure goes up to 1 billion. Also, it is estimated at 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010.

This all sounds like one grand game of telephone, doesn't it? There was this martyred priest who may or may not have secretly married young lovers. Chaucer sparked something that was clung to by folks during the romantic Renaissance, throw in a little paganism and frustrated young men, and we have the makings of a phenomenon.

Some people are very negative about Valentine's Day, seeing it merely as a way for the greeting card industry, florists and chocolatiers to make more money. Other's proclaim, "I don't need a special day to prove my love to anyone!", showing out-and-out resentment.

Guys Hate Valentine's Day

My opinion is that we so easily forget to express our feelings to those we love and could use the nudge. I see nothing wrong with observing Valentine's Day. Regardless of its origins and events that led to how we celebrate in 2012, we can all use any excuse to say "I love you". Who knows, it could do something huge like save a marriage, or something small like put a smile on some one's face.

But, you know, I'm a hopeless hopeful romantic who just wants everyone to feel the love!
A heart with an arrow through it used to be my favorite thing to doodle.

So now it's your turn! Go write a Did You Know? post, grab the button and link up with me and Dee! You have through Friday.
(You only have to link up with one of us, but you'll show up on both blogs.)


  1. My husband lucked out because I am not one of those that does the whole V-Day thing maybe because I'm more of a guy that way...maybe because that one year he spent $100 on flowers that he got hollered at for. Obviously I need more romance in my life..

    1. I would like some romance, but I'm not down with $100 on flowers either!

  2. I love that this time of year I can buy almost anything in PINK! Hehe. This was great, I honestly had no idea where any of this came from. Valentine's day in this house means something TOTALLY different. Soooo....we celebrate and we enjoy it. Just in a little different way. Oh...and of course THANK YOU for being so AWESOME! I am super excited for today and so happy to get to do this monthly hop with you!

  3. I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's the first major holiday following my favorite and the best holiday of all time, Christmas. Or maybe it goes back to my school days where there was so much stress wondering if your stupid boyfriend was going to remember to bring you flowers to school and then being the ONLY girl without them when he forgot or just plain didn't give a shit...I think I may have some unresolved issues.

    Fun linky!

    1. Yeah...I think you do have unresolved issues. Hasn't the husband every tried to change your feelings?

  4. Oh wow. I need to link up next time. Did you know I'm sick AGAIN and feel awful, lol??

    I have no idea what we're gonna do for Valentine's Day. After years of hating it, I'm still half-hearted about it!

    1. You could've linked up this time. It's still open through Friday. But yeah, at least think of something to post next month - 1st Tuesday!