Thursday, February 13, 2003


Yup, with Febuary 14th right around the corner (tomorrow), eyes start to twinkle and hearts start to flutter. Perhaps, if you are like me, you ask, "Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day?"

Well, bloggers, here's the answer, blog style:

The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. The History Channel

Well, no kidding, that's why I am asking. Jeez. But the site goes on to say:

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Truly romantic. But he isn't the only prisoner who sends greetings:

A young Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orleans, was one of the earliest creators of valentines, called "poetical or amorous addresses." From his confinement in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, he sent several poems or rhymed love letters or "valentines" to his wife in France.Be Mine

Not a bad legend. It has romance, intrigue, and a locked up con. In truth, it builds on the metaphor that we are caged by our heart's desire. But even thus confined, we are free to express our feelings.

Be that as it may, we Americans, in true fashion, have decided this holiday needed some ole' fashioned commercialism. As early as the 1840s, someone figured out how to turn a dollar on this romantic day:

Esther Howland, the woman who produced the first commercial American valentines in the 1840s, sold a then mind-boggling $5,000 in cards during her first year of business. The valentine industry in the United States has been booming ever since. Today, over 1 billion valentine cards are sent in this country each year -- second in number only to Christmas cards.

But the funny thing is, according to Howstuffworks, Parents recieve the largest portion of valentines. The site also tells us that 85% of the people who purchase valentines are female. Wake up, guys!!

And if you are in the dark on where to go or what to do for valentines, your friends at MSN have the answers. From finding a date, to booking a hotel, they will handle everything. But hurry, you only have one night left.

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