Won't You Be My...Valentine?
There was more than one Saint Valentine. According to Wikkipedia, the Catholic church recognized 11 V-Days up until 1969. The one we celebrate is in honor of Valentine of Rome, who was martyred in AD 269. Not a lot is known about him but there are 2 theories as to how he supposedly met his end. One says that he was executed after refusing to convert to Roman paganism and trying to convert Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. The second says that Claudius insisted all army men remain single, in the belief that married men did not make good soldiers (ed. — must have been that pesky reason to live and all that!). Valentine was a priest at the time and he secretly performed marriage ceremonies. For this he was arrested and subsequently put to death. Legend has it that before his execution he penned the first ‘valentine’ to his beloved, reportedly a jailor’s daughter.
Hmm, which explanation is more romantic? I think I have to go with #2.
Valentine’s Day as we know it is, unsurprisingly, widely acknowleged as a Victorian custom. Chaucer might have put the idea in our heads, but things really took off around 1847. Before this many people made their own declarations of adoration and sent them to their beloved. In the US a woman named Esther Howland, of Worcester, Mass sold the first mass produced Valentines in 1847, taking inspiration from an English valentine she herself had received.
Today it’s estimated that there are approximately one billion Valentine’s Day cards sent every year, making it second only to Christmas for card sending. Also, it’s estimated that men spend (on average) twice as much as women on the holiday. Go guys!
So, how do you feel about Valentine’s Day? A time to remember a martyred saint, or a day you can eat as much chocolate as you want and not get fat (it’s been scientifically proven!)? Do you look forward to spending time with your sweetie or do you still wonder what the cute boy in your grade 7 class meant when he gave you the Mickey and Minnie Mouse card and gave everyone else Goofy and Donald? Do you mutter, ‘Bah Humbug’ under your breath when you see the aisles of pink and red in your Walmarts, pharmacies and grocery stores? Or do you smile at the boxes of cheesy paper cut-outs and fight the urge to run home and decorate a paper bag to hang in front of your desk? Do tell! Avon Authors want to know!