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18WT 045:  Valentine's Day from our LIVE Stream 2-14-2022

February 14, 2022  Patrick Heller and Janet McCue
Antique Valentine's Day Card

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18WT 045:  

Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine

Originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine…

The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269.

The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th & 15th centuries

Saint Valentine of Rome was put in prison for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century. According to an early legend, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer.

Additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer's daughter a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution. Another addition supposes that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.

In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, & sending greeting cards (known as "valentines").

Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, & the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

In Italy, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol & an invitation to unlock the giver's heart", as well as to children to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady).

Folk traditions

While the European folk traditions connected with Saint Valentine & St. Valentine's Day have become marginalized by the modern customs connecting the day with romantic love, there are some remaining associations connecting the saint with the advent of spring.

While the custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates, & other gifts originated in the UK, Valentine's Day still remains connected with various regional customs in England. In Norfolk, a character called 'Jack' Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets & presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person.

In Slovenia, Saint Valentine or Zdravko was one of the saints of spring, the saint of good health, & the patron saint of beekeepers & pilgrims. A proverb says that "Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots".  Plants & flowers start to grow on this day. It has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards & in the fields commences.

It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Another proverb says "Valentine – the first spring saint", as in some places (especially White Carniola), Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring. Valentine's Day has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love was traditionally March 12, the Saint Gregory's day, or February 22, Saint Vincent's Day. The patron of love was Saint Anthony, whose day has been celebrated on June 13.


Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls

Geoffrey Chaucer by Thomas Hoccleve (1412)

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is believed to be in the Parliament of Fowls (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer, a dream vision portraying a parliament for birds to choose their mates.  Honoring the first anniversary of the engagement of fifteen-year-old King Richard II of England to fifteen-year-old Anne of Bohemia, Chaucer wrote (in Modern English):


"For this was on Saint Valentine's Day

When every bird comes there to choose his match

Of every kind that men may think of

And that so huge a noise they began to make

That earth & air & tree & every lake

Was so full, that not easily was there space

For me to stand—so full was all the place."


Readers assumed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine's Day. Henry Ansgar Kelly has observed that Chaucer might have had in mind the feast day of St. Valentine of Genoa, an early bishop of Genoa who died around AD 307; it was probably celebrated on 3 May. A treaty providing for Richard II & Anne's marriage, the subject of the poem, was signed on May 2, 1381.


Court of love

The earliest description of February 14 as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love. The charter, allegedly issued by Charles VI of France in 1400, describes lavish festivities to be attended by several members of the royal court, including a feast, amorous songs, & poetry competitions, jousting & dancing. Amid these festivities, the attending ladies would hear & rule on disputes from lovers. No other record of the court exists, & none of those named in the charter were present at Mantes except Charles's queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, who may well have imagined it all while waiting out a plague.

The modern cliché Valentine's Day poem can be found in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784), a collection of English nursery rhymes published in London by Joseph Johnson:


"The rose is red, the violet's blue,            

The honey's sweet, & so are you.

Thou art my love & I am thine;

I drew thee to my Valentine:

The lot was cast & then I drew,

And Fortune said it shou'd be you


In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man's Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.  Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses & sketches, called "mechanical valentines." Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace & ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century. In 1835, 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in the United Kingdom, despite postage being expensive.


A reduction in postal rates following Sir Rowland Hill's postal reforms with the 1840 invention of the postage stamp (Penny Black) saw the number of Valentines posted increase, with 400,000 sent just one year after its invention, & ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing Valentines. That made it possible for the first time to exchange cards anonymously, which is taken as the reason for the sudden appearance of racy verse in an era otherwise prudishly Victorian. Production increased, "Cupid's Manufactory" as Charles Dickens termed it, with over 3,000 women employed in manufacturing. The Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University gathers 450 Valentine's Day cards dating from early nineteenth century Britain, printed by the major publishers of the day. The collection appears in Seddon's book Victorian Valentines (1996).

In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced & sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her father operated a large book & stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English Valentine she had received from a business associate of her father.  Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace & floral decorations from England.

 A writer in Graham's American Monthly observed in 1849, "Saint Valentine's Day ... is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday." The English practice of sending Valentine's cards was established enough to feature as a plot device in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mr. Harrison's Confessions (1851): "I burst in with my explanations: 'The valentine I know nothing about.' 'It is in your handwriting', said he coldly." Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary".

Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In the UK, just under half of the population spend money on their Valentines, & around £1.9 billion was spent in 2015 on cards, flowers, chocolates, & other gifts. The mid-19th century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the U.S. to follow.

In 1868, the British chocolate company Cadbury created Fancy Boxes – a decorated box of chocolates – in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day.  Boxes of filled chocolates quickly became associated with the holiday. In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts, such as giving jewelry.

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities are included the figure goes up to 1 billion, & teachers become the people receiving the most valentines. The average valentine's spending has increased every year in the U.S, from $108 a person in 2010 to $131 in 2013. $196 in 2020.

The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating & sending Valentine's Day greeting messages such as e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards. Valentine's Day is considered by some to be a Hallmark holiday due to its commercialization.


Plan a Special Outing or Create a Romantic Setting at Home

It isn’t about how much you spend. It is about the thought you put into it. Going out can be a picnic if you live where it is warm. Up north & just need to get away for a bit & broke? Take your picnic in the other room away from everyone else. Put a blanket on the floor or bed & spread out the special spread! It can be something as easy as some meat & cheese with crackers & a cold drink. (Non-alcoholic if you are driving somewhere)

Decorate, clean up the clutter, put papers & clothes where they belong. That little extra work of cleaning up before you put out a little bit of decorations goes a long way.

Call them or text your special one during the day to let them know that you have plans & care.

Surprise them with a special gift, a cologne or piece of jewelry or do a chore for a week or two that they normally do.

Do something together that you both love to do! You don’t have to celebrate valentine’s day on the actual day. If your lives’ are really busy, make the plans for the next day off together!

Write them a love letter or poem, something handwritten from a loved one is worth the world. Much more than a store-bought card

Don’t do last minute plans. Make your plans in advance, it will show in the end.

The little things count, the average person will notice them much more than a big once a year gesture! Offer to help out with the chores; open doors; listen intently when spoken to; pay compliments; take care of a pressing matter that has needed some attention; fix or replace something broken; serve breakfast in bed; take the dog to the groomer; give a massage; draw a bath; have their vehicle serviced.

Order flowers for them or chocolates or balloons! There is nothing like a delivery, especially if you are at work!

Start & end the day right, a cup of coffee, an I Love you & a snuggle together.

The most important gift you can give any day of the year, is quality time together. I know that it is a cliché’, but it is true.


17% of people buy valentines gifts for their pets

Online shopping is now the most prevalent way to buy gifts

Men spend 11.4 billion while women 7.8 billion

4.3 billion on dining out (31% plan to)

2.9 billion on clothing

6.2 billion on jewelry (22% plan to)

2 billion on gift cards

23.9 billion expected to be spent this year on valentine’s day

Candy, cards & flowers (17%) are still the most popular gifts

41% want a gift of an experience, like an event. Concert, sporting event or such. New experiences are trending



Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) & Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae).  Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 & was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496 & was buried on the Via Flaminia. The relics of Saint Valentine were kept in the Church & Catacombs of San Valentino in Rome, which "remained an important pilgrim site throughout the Middle Ages until the relics of St. Valentine were transferred to the church of Santa Prassede during the pontificate of Nicholas IV". The flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics are found at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.[20]


Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (now Terni, in central Italy) & is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian in 273. He is buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location from Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino). Professor Jack B. Oruch of the University of Kansas notes that "abstracts of the acts of the two saints were in nearly every church & monastery of Europe." The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him. A relic claimed to be Saint Valentine of Terni's head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester, & venerated.

February 14 is celebrated as St. Valentine's Day in various Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of 'commemoration' in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion. In addition, the feast day of Saint Valentine is also given in the calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church. However, in the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar & relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: "Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14."

The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, & also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Second Vatican Council calendar (see General Roman Calendar of 1960).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Valentine is recognized on July 6, in which Saint Valentine, the Roman presbyter, is honoured; in addition, the Eastern Orthodox Church observes the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, on July 30.