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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The "A Gift Of Love" Story

A lace Valentine Card from the 1890s.
It was an ordinary day.  And, after yesterday, Friday the 13th, are you ready for some loving?  Valentine's Day, also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is celebrated in many countries of the world, although it isn't a holiday in most of them.  Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration to remember Saint Valentine of Rome who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.  
A postcard Valentine circa 1910.
Alledgely, during his time in prison he healed the blind daughter of his jailer and later wrote her a letter signing it "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution.  The expression "From Your Valentine" has been adopted by modern Valentine letter writers and this legend has been published by American Greetings.  In 18th Century England, Valentine's Day became a time for lovers to express their love for each other by presenting flowers, sweets or cards to one another.  Valentine symbols that are customary today are heart-shaped items, doves or the winged figure of Cupid.  In the 19th century the hand-written letters and cards of yesteryears gave way to mass-produced greeting cards.  Now it is becoming more and more accepted to send an online-Valentine card to your sweetheart.  There have been other St. Valentine's in history with one Catholic saint mentioned in early martyrologies under the date of February 14 which is perhaps why we celebrate our Valentine's Day on that particular date.  Valentine's Day is mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare "Hamlet" (1600-1601) with the following verse: 



To-morrow is Saint Valentine's Day,
All in the morning be tie,
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.

Ah, what a lover that Hamlet must have been. In more recent history (1784) Gammer Gurton's Garland, an English writer of nursery rhymes, wrote:


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 be my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.

Ah, love is pure joy.  In the United States the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced in the mid-1840s.  
Traditional Valentine's Day gifts for your sweetheart.
By the mid-1900s the practice of exchanging cards was extended to roses, chocolates and jewelry.  Today approxi- mately 190 million valentines are sent or exchanged each year with about half of those given to family members.  Most Valentine buyers spend close to $150 each year to try and impress their loved ones.  As for Carol and I, we mailed Valentine cards to our grandchildren as well as exchanging cards and chocolates and enjoying a Valentine's Day lunch. Always nice to take a break from the everyday life to express the love you share with friends and family.  Happy Valentine's Day to all!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 






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