First ~ A bit of history

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Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honor Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families.
As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. THE good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed, to celebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honor of a heathen god. On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed.
The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavored to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feast. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way.

Valentines Cards:

Valentine greetings were popular in the Middle Ages, when lovers spoke or sang their valentines. Written valentines appeared after 1400. The oldest in existence was made in the 1400's and is in the British Museum. Paper valentines were exchanged in Europe and given in place of valentine gifts. They were especially popular in England. Early valentines were made by hand and were made with colored paper, watercolors, and colored inks.

There were many different types of handmade valentines:

ACROSTIC VALENTINES: These had verses in which the first lines spelled out the loved one's name.

CUTOUT VALENTINES: These were made by folding the paper several times and then cutting out a lacelike design with small, sharp, pointed scissors.

PINPRICK VALENTINES: These were made by pricking tiny holes in a paper with a pin or needle, creating the look of lace.

THEOREM OR POONAH VALENTINES: These designs were painted through a stencil cut in oil paper, a style that came from the Orient.

REBUS VALENTINES: Verses in which tiny pictures take the place of some of the words. (an eye would take the place of the word "I")

PUZZLE PURSE VALENTINES:- A folded puzzle to read and refold. Among their many folds were verses that had to be read in a certain order.

FRAKTUR VALENTINES: These had ornamental lettering in the style of illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

In the early 1800's, valentines began to be assembles in factories. Early manufactured valentines were black and white pictures that were painted by workers in a factory. Fancy valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid 1800's. By the end of the 1800's valentines were being made entirely by machine.

In the early 1900's a card company named Norcross began to manufacture valentines. Norcross eventually became the card company we all know as Hallmark. Each year Hallmark displays its collection of rare and antique valentines at card shops around the country. Museums and Libraries also offer antique valentine exhibitions around St. Valentine's Day.

The first commercial valentine greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840's by Esther A. Howland.

What the different symbols mean...


Emotions are feelings such as love, happiness, anger, or fear. A long time ago, people believed that all the emotions were found in the heart. In later years, they thought only the emotion of love was connected with the heart.
The heart is still a symbol of love, and because of this, it is also a symbol of Valentine's Day


The rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red is a color that stands for strong feelings. This iswhy the red rose is a flower of love.


Lace is a pretty fabric made by weaving together fine threads. Hundreds of years ago, women carried lace handkerchiefs. If a woman dropped her handkerchief, a man nearby might pick it up and return it to her.
Sometimes a woman might see a man she wanted to meet. She might drop her lace handkerchief on purpose to encourage romance. Soon people thought of romance when they thought of lace. They began using paper lace to decorate chocolate boxes and Valentine cards.


Years ago, when a man proposed marriage to a woman, he "asked for her hand." The hand became a symbol of marriage and love. Soon gloves also became a symbol of love.


In some countries, men and women exchange rings when they become engaged or marry. Two or three hundred years ago, Valentine's Day was a popular day for giving an engagement ring. An engagement ring usually had a stone or jewel set in it. Diamonds are common in today's engagement rings.


A love knot is a series of winding and interlacing loops with no beginning and no end. It is a symbol of endless love. People made love knots from ribbon or drew them on paper. Often, a message was written on the love knot. The message had no beginning or end. It could be repeated endlessly.


Lovebirds are colorful parrots found in Africa. Most have red bills. They are called lovebirds because they sit closely together in pairs.

Doves were thought to be favorite birds of Venus. They remain with the same mates all their lives. The males and females both care for their babies. Because these birds are symbols of loyalty and love, they are also symbols of Valentine's Day.


Son of Venus, goddess of love. He could cause people to fall in love by piercing them with one of his magic arrows.

Cupid is the most famous of Valentine symbols. He is known as a mischievous, winged child armed with bow and arrows. He shot darts of desire into the bosoms of both gods and men causing them to fall deeply in love. Cupid has always played a role in the celebrations of love and lovers. In ancient Greece he was known as Eros the young son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. To the Roman's he was Cupid, and his mother was Venus.

One legend tells the story of Cupid and the mortal maiden Psyche. Venus was jealous of the beauty of Psyche, and ordered Cupid to punish the mortal. But instead, Cupid fell deeply in love with her. He took her as his wife, but as a mortal she was forbidden to look at him.

Psyche was happy until her sisters convinced her to look at Cupid. Cupid punished her by leaving and their lovely castle and gardens vanished with him. Psyche found herself alone in an open field. As she wandered trying to find her love, she came upon the temple of Venus. Wishing to destroy her, the goddess of love gave Psyche a series of tasks, each harder and more dangerous then the last.

For her last task Psyche was given a little box and told to take it to the underworld. She was told to get some of the beauty of Proserpine, the wife of Pluto, and put it in the box. During her trip she was given tips on avoiding the dangers of the realm of the dead. She was also warned not to open the box. Temptation overcame Psyche and she opened the box. But instead of finding beauty, she found deadly slumber.

Cupid found her lifeless on the ground. He gathered the deadly sleep from her body and put it back in the box. Cupid forgave her, as did Venus. The gods, moved by Psyche's love for Cupid made her a goddess.

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