Annie's Valentines History Page

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~All information below quoted from The World Book Encyclopedia 1998~

"People in most Western countries celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14.
Many schools hold Valentine's Day parties when the children make special
decorations for their classrooms. Old and young alike exchange Valentine cards
with their friends. The custom of exchanging greetings on Valentine's Day goes
back hundreds of years. Scholars have found records of Valentine notes that
date from the 1400's.

Valentine's Day is a special day observed on February 14. On this day, people
send greeting cards called valentines to their sweethearts, friends, and members of their families. Many valentines have romantic verses, and others have humorous pictures and sayings. Many say, "Be my valentine."

For weeks before February 14, stores sell valentines and valentine decorations
. Schoolchildren decorate their classrooms with paper hearts and lace for the
occasion. On Valentine's Day, many people give candy, flowers,
and other gifts to their friends.

Valentine's Day Around the World
In the United States and Canada, children exchange valentines with their
friends. In some schools, the children hold a classroom party and put all the
valentines into a box they have decorated. At the end of the day, the teacher
or one child distributes the cards. Many children make their own valentines
from paper doilies, red paper, wallpaper samples, and pictures cut from
magazines. Sometimes they buy kits that include everything needed to
make valentines. Many children send their largest, fanciest
cards to their parents and teachers.

Older students hold Valentine's Day dances and parties. They make candy
baskets, gifts, and place cards trimmed with hearts and fat, winged children
called cupids. Many people send flowers, a box of candy, or some other gift
to their wives, husbands, or sweethearts. Most valentine candy
boxes are heart-shaped and tied with red ribbon.

In Europe, people celebrate Valentine's Day in many ways. British children sing
special Valentine's Day songs and receive gifts of candy, fruit, or money. In
some areas of England, people bake valentine buns with caraway seeds, plums,
or raisins. People in Italy hold a Valentine's Day feast.

In Britain and Italy, some unmarried women get up before
sunrise on Valentine's Day. They stand by

Open Window with Curtains
the window watching for a man to pass. They believe that the first man they
see, or someone who looks like him, will marry them within a year. William
Shakespeare, the English playwright, mentions this belief in Hamlet (1603).
Ophelia, a woman in the play, sings:

Good morrow! 'Tis St. Valentine's Day
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your valentine!

In Denmark, people send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their
friends. Danish men also send a type of valentine called a gaekkebrev (joking
letter). The sender writes a rhyme but does not sign his name. Instead, he
signs the valentine with dots, one dot for each letter of his name. If the
woman who gets it guesses his name, he rewards her with an Easter egg on
Easter. Some people in Great Britain also send valentines signed with dots.

Different authorities believe Valentine's Day began in various ways. Some trace
it to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. Other experts connect the
event with one or more saints of the early Christian church. Still others link it
with an old English belief that birds choose their mates on February 14.
Valentine's Day probably came from a combination of all three of those
sources--plus the belief that spring is a time for lovers.

The ancient Romans held the festival of Lupercalia on February 15 to ensure
protection from wolves. During this celebration, young men struck people with
strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they thought that the
whipping made them more fertile. After the Romans conquered Britain in A.D.
43, the British borrowed many Roman festivals. Many writers link the festival
of Lupercalia with Valentine's Day because of the similar date and the
connection with fertility.

The early Christian church had at least two saints named Valentine. According
to one story, the Roman Emperor Claudius II in the A.D. 200's forbade young
men to marry. The emperor thought single men made better soldiers. A priest
named Valentine disobeyed the emperor's order and
secretly married young couples.

Another story says Valentine was an early Christian who made friends with many
children. The Romans imprisoned him because he refused to worship their gods.
The children missed Valentine and tossed loving notes between the bars of his
cell window. This tale may explain why people exchange messages on
Valentine's Day. According to still another story, Valentine restored
the sight of his jailer's blind daughter.

Many stories say that Valentine was executed on February 14 about A.D. 269.
In A.D. 496, Saint Pope Gelasius I named February 14 as St. Valentine's Day.

In Norman French, a language spoken in Normandy during the Middle Ages,
the word galantine sounds like Valentine and means gallant or lover. This
resemblance may have caused people to think of St. Valentine
as the special saint of lovers.

The earliest records of Valentine's Day in English tell that birds chose their
mates on that day. People used a different calendar before 1582, and
February 14 came on what is now February 24. Geoffrey Chaucer, an English
poet of the 1300's, wrote in The Parliament of Fowls, "For this was on St.
Valentine's Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate."
Shakespeare also mentioned this belief in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
A character in the play discovers two lovers in the woods and asks,
"St. Valentine is past; Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?"

Early Valentine Customs
People in England probably celebrated Valentine's Day as early as the 1400's.
Some historians trace the custom of sending verses on Valentine's Day to a
Frenchman named Charles, Duke of Orleans. Charles was captured by the
English during the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. He was taken to England and
put in prison. On Valentine's Day, he sent his wife a rhymed love letter from
his cell in the Tower of London.

Many Valentine's Day customs involved ways that single women could learn who
their future husbands would be. Englishwomen of the 1700's wrote men's
names on scraps of paper, rolled each in a little piece of clay, and dropped
them all into water. The first paper that rose to the surface
supposedly had the name of a woman's true love.

Also in the 1700's, unmarried women pinned five bay leaves to their pillows
on the eve of Valentine's Day. They pinned one leaf to the center of the
pillow and one to each corner. If the charm worked,
they saw their future husbands in their dreams.

In Derbyshire, a county in central England, young women circled the
church 3 or 12 times at midnight and repeated such verses as:

I sow hempseed.
Hempseed I sow.
He that loves me best,
Come after me now.
Their true loves then supposedly appeared.

One of the oldest customs was the practice of writing women's names on slips
of paper and drawing them from a jar. The woman whose name was drawn by a
man became his valentine, and he paid special attention to her. Many men gave
gifts to their valentines. In some areas, a young man gave his valentine a pair
of gloves. Wealthy men gave fancy balls to honor their valentines.

One description of Valentine's Day during the 1700's tells how groups of
friends met to draw names. For several days, each man wore his valentine's
name on his sleeve. The saying wearing his heart on his sleeve
probably came from this practice.

The custom of sending romantic messages gradually replaced that of giving
gifts. In the 1700's and 1800's, many stores sold handbooks called valentine
writers. These books included verses to copy and various
suggestions about writing valentines.

Commercial valentines were first made in the early 1800's. Many of them were
blank inside, with space for the sender to write a message. The British artist
Kate Greenaway became famous for her valentines in the late 1800's. Many of
her cards featured charming pictures of happy children and lovely gardens.

Esther A. Howland, of Worcester, Massachusetts, became one of the first
U.S. manufacturers of valentines. In 1847, after seeing a British valentine,
she decided to make some of her own. She made samples and took orders from
stores. Then she hired a staff of young women and set up an assembly line to
produce the cards. One woman glued on paper flowers, another added lace,
and another painted leaves. Howland soon expanded her business
into a $100,000-a-year enterprise.

Many valentines of the 1800's were hand painted. Some featured a fat cupid
or showed arrows piercing a heart. Many cards had satin, ribbon, or lace trim.
Others were decorated with dried flowers, feathers, imitation jewels,
mother-of-pearl, sea shells, or tassels. Some cards cost as much as $10.

From the mid-1800's to the early 1900's, many people sent comic valentines
called penny dreadfuls. These cards sold for a penny
and featured such insulting verses as:

'Tis all in vain your simpering looks,
You never can incline,
With all your bustles, stays, and curls,
To find a valentine.

Many penny dreadfuls and other old valentines have become collectors' items.

Valentine, Saint, is the name associated with two martyrs of the early Christian
church. Little is known about them. The Roman history of martyrs lists two
Saint Valentines as having been martyred on February 14 by being beheaded.
One supposedly died in Rome and the other at Interamna, now Terni, 60 miles
(97 kilometers) from Rome. Scholars have had great difficulty in finding
historical fact among the Saint Valentine legends.

The Saint Valentine who died in Rome seems to have been a priest who suffered
death during the persecution of Claudius the Goth about A.D. 269. A basilica
was built in his honor in Rome in A.D. 350, and a catacomb containing his
remains was found on this location.

Another history of martyrs mentions a Saint Valentine who was bishop of
Interamna and who may have been martyred in Rome. By being remembered
both in Rome and in Interamna, he may have come to be considered as two
people, but this is not entirely certain.

The custom of exchanging valentines on February 14 can be traced to the
English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. He mentioned that birds began
to pair off on that day."

~Above information taken from The World Book Encyclopedia 1998~


Be Mine

Go the extra mile this Valentine's Day and deliver a dozen (or more)
homemade cupcakes to your sweetheart.  Easy
cupcake recipes like
chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, or orange cupcakes are sure
to please anyone on this
sweet day.


Return to:

Annie's Valentine's Day Welcome Page - lists all or my
Valentine's Day Related Pages for you!
Annie's Valentine's Day Just for Kids Page
Annie's "A Psalm for Each Day" Page ~For February~
Annie's February Holidays Page
Annie's Daily Survival Kit Page
Annie's "Valentine Fun & Free Stuff" Page
Annie's Valentine's Day Card for YOU Page
Annie's Valentine's Day Quilt Page
Annie's "January Fun & Free Stuff" Page
Annie's "February Fun & Free Stuff" Page
Make sure you don't miss my son
Jake's Monthly Word Puzzles:
Jakes "February Word Puzzle Page


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