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~All information below quoted from The World Book
in most Western countries celebrate Valentine's Day on
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
. Schoolchildren decorate their classrooms with paper
hearts and lace for the
occasion. On Valentine's Day, many people give candy,
and other gifts to their friends.
Valentine's Day Around the
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,
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
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
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.
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your valentine!
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
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
Valentine's Day. According to still another story,
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.
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
Shakespeare also mentioned this belief in A Midsummer
A character in the play discovers two lovers in the woods
"St. Valentine is past; Begin these woodbirds but to
Early Valentine Customs
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
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
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
church 3 or 12 times at midnight and repeated such verses
I sow hempseed.
Hempseed I sow.
He that loves me best,
Come after me now.
Their true loves then supposedly appeared.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
called penny dreadfuls. These cards sold for a penny
and featured such insulting verses as:
'Tis all in vain your
You never can incline,
With all your bustles, stays, and curls,
To find a valentine.
penny dreadfuls and other old valentines have become
Saint, is the name associated with two martyrs of the
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
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
to pair off on that day."
information taken from The World Book Encyclopedia 1998~