Aaaahhh Valentine’s Day
Thankfully, my mom did not win the name argument when I was born so I escaped being named Valentina! I can distinctly remember the year that I threw a little bratty fit and informed my parents that I did not want a heart shaped, pink and red cake anymore. I have often suffered through the day. During my single years there where times when it seemed I was the only one in the office not receiving flowers, cards and candy. And let’s not forget the years that my sweetheart decided to “reduce expenses” by buying me a combined valen-birthday gift!
Since being a Human Valentine has made me rather an expert on the subject, I thought it appropriate to share some of the traditions and history this week in our blog.
Here are some interesting trivia:
The earliest description of February 14 as a celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France in 1400. Amid the festivities, the attending ladies would hear and rule on disputes from lovers. I guess we could call this the “Real Housewives of France!”
The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orléans to his wife, which commences.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…
At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London after being captured in battle. My how romance heats up when the chips are down!
Even William Shakespeare favored the day and included a mention by Ophelia in Hamlet (1600)
To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
Isn’t that romantic? Fifty Shades of….
Do you remember this one?
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art 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.
Or my favorite satirical version:
Roses are red, violets are blue.
Love stinks and so do you!
That actually came about in 1784 in a collection of English nursery rhymes and has been re-purposed and re-written for many an occasion since. Such a catchy little ditty!
In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Note that there wasn’t a corresponding Young Woman’s Valentine Writer….Just saying!
And don’t despair for those who still have trouble with expressing their true feelings, help is as close as your Smartphone. There are websites for this.
Try sms4smile.com/category/valentine-sms/ to find suggestions for catchy text messages to woo your true love.
Or www.someecards.com/ecards/valentines-day/ and www.jibjab.com/Valentines for a funny e-cards. Jibjab even allows you to upload a “selfie” for a very personal video card.
The more traditionalist can find good old-fashioned sentiment at sites like www.americangreetings.com/eCards and www.bluemountain.com/eCards.
Just a word of advice from someone considered to be an expert….Nothing expresses the sentiment of Valentine’s Day better than the old fashioned paper variety valentine card. First mass-produced in the US by Esther Howland shortly after 1847, valentines were created with embossed paper, lace and those ever present words of love. Today, the U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. When valentine-exchange cards made in school activities are included the figure goes up to 1 billion! Of course today’s celebration of love includes more than valentine cards and letters. Flowers, candy, jewelry and other gifts have become tradition and the day usually includes a romantic dinner (that is if you can get a reservation!) The average valentine’s spending has increased every year in the U.S, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013.
Now isn’t that “sweet?”
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