The Origin Of Giving Valentine’s Day Cards
Traditionally, mid-February was a Roman time to meet and court prospective mates.
The Lupercian lottery (under penalty of mortal sin), Roman young men did institute the custom of offering women they admired and wished to court handwritten greetings of affection on February 14. The cards acquired St. Valentine’s name.
As Christianity spread, so did the Valentine’s Day card. The earliest extant card was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. It is now in the British Museum.
In the sixteenth century, St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, attempted to expunge the custom of cards and reinstate the lottery of saints’ names.
He felt that Christians had become wayward and needed models to emulate. However, this lottery was less successful and shorter-lived than Pope Gelasius’s. And rather than disappearing, cards proliferated and became more decorative.
Cupid, the naked cherub armed with arrows dipped in love potion, beame a popular valentine image. He was associated with the holiday because in Roman mythology he is the son of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.
By the seventeenth century, handmade cards were oversized and elaborate, while store-bought ones were smaller and costly.
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 and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing valentines.
That, in turn, 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.
The burgeoning number of obscene valentines caused several countries to ban the practice of exchanging cards. In Chicago, for instance, late in the nineteenth century,
the post office rejected some twenty-five thousand cards on the ground that they were not fit to be carried through the U.S. mail.
The first American publisher of valentines was printer and artist Esther Howland. Her elaborate lace cards of the 1870s cost from five to ten dollars, with some selling for as much as thirty-five dollars.
Since that time, the valentine card business has flourished. With the exception of Christmas, Americans exchange more cards on Valentine’s Day than at any other time of the year.
Just thinking about it brings memories of red construction paper, and little boxes of heart candies that say ‘Be Mine’!
A Romantic Vacation In Cuba – The Perfect Valentine’s Day Break
Venice, Paris, Seville and Prague may have a reputation for making the best romantic breaks, but as love and romance are often supposed to be linked to the unexpected,
how about choosing a more unconventional location for your Valentine’s Day break this year? I speak of course of Cuba – the Caribbean’s largest island.
From the picturesque beaches, to the idyllic architecture and cosy restaurants, the island makes a memorable retreat sure to keep the flames of passion alive
– at least until you return to rainy old England! A Valentines break, or even a honeymoon in Cuba, is something special which will stay with you for a long time.
So why Cuba? First of all, Valentine’s Day is a big deal on the island. While it’s easy to become jaded in a country where the celebration seems to be more about saccharine sweet greeting cards than about celebrating the love of your special one,
Cubans make the day really special. To begin with, the buildings – public and private alike – are decked out with colourful lights, and some of the private homes have gifts attached to the walls too
– inside and out! This combined with the usual local atmosphere of friendliness guarantees an atmosphere perfect for Valentines day holiday makers, and make the ideal setting for
‘popping the question’ should you feel so inclined. If you have just celebrated a February marriage, honeymoons in Cuba are especially romantic around Valentines Day,
and you’ll be guaranteed a friendly welcome and an enjoyable stay which will ensure you never want to leave.
In terms of specific romantic places to visit on the island, there are just too many to mention, and part of the charm of a Cuba holiday is that there are thousands of undiscovered choice spots for couples to enjoy a picnic,
watch the sunset or just recline under the stars. However, there are a few places which are undisputed romantic vacation highlights of the island
– Old Havana itself is very much a focal point, and allows for all tastes amidst it’s 18th century colonial architecture from candlelit dinners to passionate salsa dance.
Another choice romantic vacation spot is El Salton – not a spot on the tourist trail, but wonderfully peaceful and charming.
The waterfall is surrounded by vibrant cocoa plantations, cooling streams and mountain farms. If you prefer something a little more populated, then the city of Bayamo offers a cultural alternative.
The city hosts the national monument, plenty of history and excellent food for that perfect candle lit dinner. Additionally, the troubadours stroll through the town, allowing the romance to overspill from the homes into the streets.
Baracoa offers a romantic break somewhere between the peace of the countryside and the bustle of the city. Baracoa has historic links to Velasquez and Columbus,
and is surrounded by the beauty of Cuban nature – 10 rivers, isolated beaches, small fishing settlements, UNESCO designated biospheres, mountains, and coconut plantations.
Everything is ready for the perfect romantic break in Cuba this Valentine’s Day. The hotels often have special Valentines Day break packages, and the restaurants usually offer special menus, to give you a memorable occasion.
With some fine food and wine, how you spend the rest of the evening is up to you – fiery Latin dance or a night out on the isolated beaches under the stars
– Cuba really has something for every couple with an imagination for the romantic. Whether you’re looking for a memorable Valentines Day break or to spend your honeymoon in Cuba, you’ll be spoilt for choice in the romance department.
The origins of Valentines Day
Every year February 14th is celebrated as a day for love, exchange of gifts, promises of eternal passion, and more. The inspired pen poems inspired by their love and admiration for the women of their dreams while others just go to shops and buy commercially available verses.
Valentines means candy, chocolates, perfume, red hearts, balloons, and more. Have you ever wondered when the celebration first originated? Well in ancient Rome, February heralded the coming to spring a time for rejuvenation, fertility, and growth.
In ancient times, Romans celebrated in February a festival to honor the god of fertility who provided them with progeny and ensured a god crop.
In Rome February 15th was celebrated as the feast of Lupercalla and Feb 14th as a holiday in honor of Juno the queen of Roman gods and goddesses.
On the eve of Lupercalla a glass jar was filled to the brim with chits on which were penned the names of all eligible girls.
Then young men would draw a chit each from the jar and the girl whose name was on the chit would be his partner for the celebration. This was a method by which ancient Romans introduced eligible boys and girls to one another.
Much later in the 3rd century BCE when Emperor Claudius II ruled Rome there lived a priest called Valentine. And when Claudius passed a decree that young men in his empire were not to marry, Valentine defied him and used to consecrate marriages secretly.
He was sentenced to death and thrown into prison. While awaiting his execution Valentine penned a letter to his love and signed it “from your Valentine.” After his death Valentine became a martyr and saint and was popularly known as St Valentine.
Wonderful legends are woven around Valentine’s Day. In Wales young people exchanged as gifts wooden spoons which were hand carved with decorations of hearts and key holes.
The decorations conveyed “you hold the key to my heart or you unlock my heart.” In other places women were given gifts of clothes and if they accepted the gift then it conveyed that they were wiling to marry the man who has sent the gift.
In 1415, Charles, the Duke of Orleans is known to have penned, from his prison in the tower of London , what were known as “poetical amorous addresses” to his wife in France, he is believed to be one of the earliest creators of valentines.
Just as companies like Hallmark sell cards for Valentines Day in the 15th century people bought little booklets with verse in them —they then made their own valentines using the verse to express their thoughts.
For example a valentine could have the hand drawn illustration of a knight and his lady with Cupid the god of love shooting arrows into the knight’s heart.
In the US it was after 1723, that popularity of the celebration grew. People imported the “booklets of verse” all the way from England and copied the verses on to gilt edged papers. Then a Ms.
Ester Howard in around 1830 decided to be original and create American Valentines that were marketed as Worcester Valentines.
Since then with changing centuries and tastes the celebration has taken on new hues with young men and women, children, as well as older couples creating newer ways to celebrate and declare their undying love.
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