Saturday, 18 February 2012

The history and origins of St Valentines Day - A guide to the day

If you're stumped for creative Valentine'sDay ideas, try incorporating some of the history of the holiday into your plans. The origins of Valentine's Day go back further than you may think, and may provide some inspiration to make some old traditions new again. According to the Catholic Church, there have been three saints named Valentine. The one that inspired the holiday is a mystery, but there are plenty of legends surrounding him.

The more popular and romantic of these stories contends that Valentine was a Roman priest under Emperor Claudius II. When the emperor decreed that young men could no longer marry, so as to make better soldiers, Valentine protested and continued to perform marriage rituals in secret. When caught, he was jailed and was ordered to be put to death. Prior to his execution, Valentine received visits from a girl, believed to be the jailer's daughter, and he fell in love with her. Before his death, he wrote the girl a letter and signed it "From your Valentine," in what may have been the first valentine's card.

The image above shows coins depicting Claudius II, commonly associated with the origins of St. Valentine’s Day.
Image Courtesy:

The February date of Valentine's Day is unlikely to coincide with Saint Valentine's death. It's probable that the selection of Valentine's feast day was, instead, a decision made by the Christian church to usurp the pagan festival of Lupercalia. In ancient Rome, the Lupercalia festival was a sacred celebration of fertility and involved animal sacrifice. After these rituals, young women and men would be paired together by drawing names from an urn and would spend the year together in a kind of ancient world prolonged blind date. Starting in the Middle Ages, the French and English came to believe that the mating season for birds began on February 14th, helping cement that date as a day for romantic aspirations.

Valentine's Day didn't come into popular celebration in Great Britain until the 17th century. Handwritten notes and small gifts were common exchanges among friends and lovers of all social classes; by the end of the 18th century, the handwritten letters were replaced by printed cards. In the United States, handwritten cards became popular in the Revolutionary War and went into mass production during the early twentieth century.

The oldest known Valentine's Day card is on display at the British Library and dates from 1415. The author was Charles, Duke of Orleans, writing to his wife during his time at the Tower of London. Not long after this, legend holds that Henry V sent a valentine note to Catherine of Valois, after hiring a writer to compose it for him. Slightly more famous, the oldest existing valentine written in English is one from 1477 and was composed by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiancé. It is also on display at the British Library.

Valentine's Day candy is associated with the holiday as much as the cards. Chocolate has a long-standing link with romance, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Montezuma of the Aztec Empire consumed chocolate regularly to increase his virility. The romantic reputation of the sweet has only grown since. As for those ubiquitous little candy hearts, their origin goes as far back as the American Civil War. Back then, they were called Conversation Hearts and were shaped pieces of sugar and flour candy with rolled up paper messages inside.

For romantic Valentine'sDay getaways, consider adding a touch of holiday history. In London, visit the British Library and see the oldest Valentine’s Day cards on display. Wander through Rome and learn more about the ancient Lupercalia festivals and their patron god, Faunas. France has strong historical links with the holiday, too; Charles, Duke of Orleans, was a Frenchman, and there is a village in central France named for Saint Valentine. In St-Valentin, tourists visit from all over the country for a weekend-long Valentine's Day celebration every year. These Valentine's Day getaways are both meaningful and sure to impress!

The above photo shows a horse and carriage ride in St Valentin, France.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A List of Quotes about Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a celebration of loving relationships and it is important to keep love fresh and growing. When contemplating Valentine's Day Getaways or gifts, remember to consider an appropriate sentiment to go along with the celebration or gift of flowers. Below is a list of quotes that will help inspire Valentine's Day Ideas and loving feelings.


"I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love."
-Henry Ward Beecher

"To love another person is to see the face of God."
-Les Miserables

"To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven."
Karen Sunde

"For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul."
-Judy Garland

"Soul meets soul on lovers' lips."
-Percy Bysshe Shelley

“I want you to be my Valentine. It doesn’t seem to be a secret.” – A 1928 posted and card including a quote from Buster Brown.

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

"The thirst that from the soul doth rise, doth ask a drink divine."
-Ben Jonson

"He who bends to himself a joy
Doth the wing'ed life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise."
-William Blake

"Some love lasts a lifetime. True love lasts forever."

"Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end."

"If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile, the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand."

"Love is something eternal; the aspect may change, but not the essence."
-Vincent van Gogh

" So let us love, dear love, like as we ought;
Love is the lesson which the Lord has taught."
-Edmund Spenser


"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs."
-William Shakespeare

“I’m plum crazy about you Valentine”. A Valentine’s Day card with a pun/play on words from around 1950.

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."
-Ingrid Bergman

"The Eskimos have 52 words for snow because it is so special to them; there ought to be as many for love!"
-Margaret Atwood

“Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination."

"Love is the poetry of the senses."
-Honore de Balzac

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction."

"Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition."
-Alexander Smith

"Very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love."

"Love cures people - both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it."
-Dr. Karl Menninger

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."
-Robert Frost

"True love is like ghosts which everybody talks about and few have seen."
-La Rochfoucauld

"If love is great, and there are no greater things, then what I feel for you must be the greatest."

"Love is being stupid together."
-Paul Valery

"Love is the greatest refreshment in life."
-Pablo Picasso

"Love is what you've been through with somebody."
-James Thurber

"Love is the only gold."
-Lord Alfred Tennyson

"Love is a promise; love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear."
-John Lennon

"Love is not singular except in syllable."
-Marvin Taylor

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."
-Albert Einstein

"Love is metaphysical gravity"
-R. Buckminster Fuller

“Love’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved."
-Victor Hugo

"At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."

"Love to faults is always blind
Always is to joy inclin'd
Lawless, wing'd, and unconfin'd
And breaks all chains from every mind."
-William Blake

"It is to be made of sighs and tears...
It is to be made of faith and service...
It is to be made of fantasy,
All made of passion and all made of wishes,
All adoration, duty and observance,
All humbleness, all patience and impatience,
All purity, all trial, all observance;
And so am I for Phoebe."
-William Shakespeare

"Love consists in this, that two Solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

"Love is a short word, but it contains all; it means the
body, the soul, the life, the entire being. We feel it as
we feel the warmth of our blood, we breathe it as we
breathe the air, we carry it in ourselves as we carry
our thoughts. Nothing more exists for us. It is not a
word; it is an inexpressible state indicated by four
-Guy de Maupassant

“Love is the most intensive desire of the soul to enjoy beauty, and where it is reciprocal, is the most entire and exact union of hearts..."
-Algernon Sidney

“Love is my life, life is my love,
love is my whole felicity,
Love is my sweet, sweet is my love,
I am in love and love in me."
-Michael Drayton

"My love is like a red, red rose, that's newly sprung in June..."
- Robert Burns


"The honey of the Hybla bees
Is not so sweet as kissing you..."
-Samuel Hoffenstein

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate."
- William Shakespeare

“No, no, the utmost share
Of my desire shall be,
Only to kiss the air
That lately kissed thee."
-Robert Herrick

"I thought that it was snowing
Flowers. But no. It was this young lady
Coming towards me."

"Her hand which touched my hand she moved away,
But there it lies, forever and a day."
-Hillaire Belloc

"If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden."
-Claudia Ghandi

"I need the starshine of your heavenly eyes,
After the day's great sun."
-Charles Hanson Towne

"How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds
sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the
stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said."
-Victor Hugo


ALL FOR LOVE, selected, edited and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, (Philomel Books, 1984), Pages 14-65
"Quotations for St. Valentine's Day", pages 1-9
"Valentine's Day Quotes: Best, Most Inspiration Sayings for Spreading the Love on Valentine's Day 2010".