Valentine's day has many traditions. People give gifts, candy, cards or a token of love to their loved ones. Would it surprise you to know that this is not the way that Valentine's day began??
"For eight hundred years prior to the establishment of Valentine's Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan celebration in mid-February commemorating young men's rite of passage to the god Lupercus. The celebration featured a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl assigned to each young man in that manner would be his sexual companion during the remaining year."
Now, I'm sure you can imagine that the Catholic Church didn't exactly think highly of this custom. So, they began to search around for a suitable saint to name the celebration after. Lo and behold, there was a man named Valentine!! He had been beheaded by Emperor Claudius for trying to convert him.
"During the days that Valentine was imprisoned, he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer. His love for her, and his great faith, managed to miraculously heal her from her blindness before his death. Before he was taken to his death, he signed a farewell message to her, 'From your Valentine.' The phrase has been used on his day ever since. "
(Quotes used with permission by Jerry Wilson)
To learn more about Valentine's Day, check out Jerry's site at The Wilstar Holiday Page
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:
Curl your locks as I do mine---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.
In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favorite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, "You unlock my heart!"
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
Many people give candy to their sweethearts on Valentine's Day. Candy is sweet and so are sweethearts. In North America and Europe, chocolates are sold in fancy boxes shaped like hearts. Some boxes have flowers and ribbons on them.
In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.
Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.
Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.
Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.
If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children you will have.
A young Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orleans, was one of the earliest creators of valentines, called "poetical or amorous addresses." From his confinement in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, he sent several poems or rhymed love letters or "valentines" to his wife in France.
During the fifteenth century, one valentine showed a drawing of a knight and a lady, with Cupid in the act of sending an arrow to pierce the knight's heart.
During the seventeenth century people made their own valentines using original verse or poems copied from booklets with appropriate verse.
The English attitude toward St. Valentine's Day in the middle of the eighteenth century is summed up in this verse printed in Poor Robin's Almanac in 1757:
The maids will have good store of kisses,
For always when the fun comes there,
Valentine's Day is drawing near,
And both the men and maids incline
To chuse them each a Valentine;
And if a man gets one he loves,
He gives her first a pair of gloves;
And, by the way, remember this,
To seal the favour with a kiss.
This kiss begets more love, and then
That love begets a kiss again,
Until this trade the man doth catch,
And then he doth propose the match,
The woman's willing, tho' she's shy,
She gives the man this soft reply,
"I'll not resolve one thing or other,
Until I first consult my mother."
When she says so, 'tis half a grant,
And may be taken for consent.
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