Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Valentine’s Day – Not Just Another Hallmark Moment

on February 14, 2013


Valentine’s Day is here!  Little one’s are bringing their valentines for their teachers and classmates; woman are wondering what their lovers have in store for them and men are storming the stores to get the perfect gift for their girl.  Romantic dinners will abound, jewelry will be presented with the long-awaited question of “Will you?” and chocolates presented in velvet red boxes will be consumed by the tons.  Oh, yes, love is in the air!

But, who started this festival of love?  Well, against popular belief, it wasn’t Hallmark.  Valentines Day traditions started centuries ago and are celebrated in many countries.

The most popular legend of how Valentine’s Day started dates back to around 270 A.D., with a priest named Valentinus.  Now, the priest was imprisoned for thumbing his nose at the Roman Empires laws regarding soldiers marrying and he also had the nerve to give aid and comfort to Christians.  This was a big no-no in that day and age.  While he was in prison, he cured his jailer’s daughter, Julia, of her blindness.  Before he was executed, he sent a letter of farewell to her and signed it, “From your Valentine.”  After his death, Julia planted an almond tree in his honor.  And, so it began.  He was later proclaimed a saint and now Valentine’s Day is known as “The Feast of St. Valentine.”

Now, Chaucer was the first to write about this day of love in 1392 in his poem, “Parlement of Foules” where he wrote “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”  It’s been argued that February is too soon for birds to be mating; if you were born in November or you know someone who was, count back the months.  Someone was feeling the love in February!

In the 1700’s a publisher issued a book titled “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer” for those guys that couldn’t think up their own Valentine greetings for their gals.  Printers had started printing a few cards and verses known as “mechanical valentines.”  This started the card industry as we know it today.  Over the years, paper and lace cards were replaced with mass produced Valentines and now we have e-cards flooding cyberspace.

In the second half of the 20th century, cards were no longer enough.  The practice of giving candy, flowers and other gifts became the norm.  The 1980’s ushered in the jewelry industry pushing their diamonds as a must have for women with serious lovers.

So, guys, when you’re putting a dent in that charge card, you can blame St. Valentine.  And, ladies, while you’re flashing your diamonds; you can look to the heavens and thank the man who started it all with a simple “From your Valentine.”


5 responses to “Valentine’s Day – Not Just Another Hallmark Moment

  1. […] Valentine’s Day – Not Just Another Hallmark Moment. […]

  2. mewhoami says:

    Just yesterday, I was wondering how Valentine’s Day originally came to be and didn’t take the time to look it up. This was perfect and you’ve given me the answers I was looking for. Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day!

  3. Jess says:

    Interesting! Thanks for researching and posting. Gives the day more meaning.

  4. Aurora says:

    Valentines day has become very commercialized, just as Christmas has nowadays. Usually years past I would end up working 16 hour days as temp help in a flower shop. All those years of making flower arrangements for other people, and I still don’t believe anyone has ever sent me any.

    Traditional romantic notions are a bit lost on my hubby, he’s not a flowers and chocolates kinda guy, but he does put a lot of thought into his gifts, and they are always useful. This year he bought me a back massager.

    I got him a heart shaped box with m&ms inside, and a miniature rose bush. (I prefer to give flowers people can keep.)

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