Valentine's Day History

St. Valentine's Day
Seventeen Centuries of Romance!

by Conrad Kabbaz

What do you really know about Valentine's Day? Can you offer even a small, knowledgeable tidbit to your significant other?
Or are you just going to plunk down "Anything Red" and hope your ignorance won't kill the moment? If the former, read on and Cure Your Ignorance. "Anything Red will do" types - stop reading ... here's some Red Stuff.
Saint Valentine | The Massacre! | Proper Valentine's Day Colors | Important V-Day Catchwords
Who Was Saint Valentine?

While the history of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery, we know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance and that today's St. Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. That said, there are various theories surrounding Saint Valentine and how he became associated with this ancient tradition. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Reigning Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine fought this injustice, defying Claudius and performing marriages for young lovers in secret. Of course, in keeping with the mores of the time, when Valentine’s actions were discovered Claudius ordered his execution.

A different folk tale suggests that Valentine's demise resulted from his helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured.

Last popular legend? Valentine was a Roman prisoner. After falling in love himself - supposedly with the warden's daughter who visited him in the jail - he actually sent her the first “valentine” greeting.

A Traditional Valentine's Card, Circa 1902.

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As the story goes, before his death it is said that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine”. A word to the wise: Think of that when you sign your Valentine's Day card this February 14th!
Although the facts behind the true history of Saint Valentine remain contested, all versions paint him as a hero to the romantic ... and a romantic himself.
Years following the first stories of Saint Valentine, Pope Gelasius in the fifth century declared February 14th to be St. Valentine's Day. With this the saint was immortalized as an annual holiday. By the Middle Ages Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France. Spoken "Happy Valentine's Day" greetings were common as far back as this period, but written greetings were not known until the 1400's. The oldest known of these is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt.

The Oldest Valentine's Day Card

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The exchange of hand-made valentines is thought to have begun in America during the early eighteenth century, while still under colonial rule. The mass-distribution of valentines characteristic of America today started in the 1840’s with a woman named Esther A. Howland. Regarded as the “Mother of the Valentine,” Howland used lace, ribbon, and colorful pictures to create her unique greetings. These mass-produced creations were known at the time as “scrap.” Fast forward to today, and Esther would surely be floored by the scale of the holiday. According to the Greeting Card Association, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, with an estimated 1 billion exchanged. Only Christmas tops this figure with 2.6 billion cards annually. Saint Valentine may have sent the first namesake greeting to his love, but today the roles have shifted. In the United States, women account for nearly 85 percent of all valentine purchases.
St. Valentine's Day Massacre
At 10:30 a.m. on February 14, 1929, seven men were murdered in the truck garage at 2122 North Clark Street, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago's North Side. We all know the story. The bootleggers' massacre, attributed - though never proven - to the notorious Al Capone, remains to this day as one of the hallmarks of Valentine's Day. That said, the only connection of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to the historically romantic day is the date.
Proper Valentine's Day Colors
Just Red. Or so goes common thought. The Valentine's Day color palette is actually created from White, Red, and Blue-Black ... with an occasional dab of yellow or gold and, of course, Chocolate Brown. The traditional color range emanates outward from pure Red in both directions. On the lighter side, White, the color of the omnipresent lace doily and occasional diamond, is mixed with pure Red to create a wide array of Pinks. These include Light Pink, Rose, Rose Pink, Pink, Magenta, and Hot Pink. In the center of the spectrum are the bolder Scarlet, Red, and Crimson. The darker-toned side comes into being with the addition of blue-black tones yielding the Burgundy, Carmine, Merlot, Bordeaux, Maroon, and Wine side of the Valentine's spectrum. One of the pleasures of shopping in a single-color based spectrum is the guarantee that almost any combination of these traditional red-based colors will compliment each other.

The Valentine Color Spectrum

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The outside-the-box Yellow/Gold ... and Chocolate Brown? Yellow is the 13th rose to add a bit of spice to the sugary rose bouquet. Chocolate Brown? The favorite around here is La Maison du Chocolat. Our order's already sent in. How about yours? And Gold? Bling Never Fails!
Important V-Day Catchwords
Valentine's Day is an S day. Here are the important keywords:

Something Soft.

Something Silky.

Something Sexy.

Sugar and Spice; Sparkle and Shimmer.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Now you've got something intelligent to say on February 14th!

But do you have some Red Stuff to give? Click here ... Now!

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