Since Roman times, people have celebrated a mid-February festival — once called Lupercalia and celebrating fertility, the holiday was changed by Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. into a Christian feast day in honor of the Roman martyr Saint Valentine (who refused to forsake Christianity while in prison and sent love letters signed “from your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter.) As for the Romans, they were said to sacrifice goats and frolick in goatskin loincloths, the men striking the young women with goatskin thongs. (Some things are better off staying in Ancient Rome.)
Early famous senders of valentines include Charles, Duke of Orleans (like St. Valentine, also in prison) and King Henry V. Geoffrey Chaucer and the poets of the Medieval era linked valentine symbolism to birds, and specifically lovebirds, whom they observed beginning their mating rituals in early spring. Today, 25% of all cards sent in the U.S. per year are valentines.
I love this holiday of love and offer a collection of the Slow Family Valentines posts over the last few years. There’s something here for every celebrant, from parents and teachers seeking easy Valentine crafts to historians and collectors of vintage and rare valentines, to those interested in nature and animals and the ways in which they mate, feed and otherwise display their wonders during mid-winter and throughout the year.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Vintage Valentines, Part 1: Wordplay, Western, Food and Kitchen
Vintage Valentines, Part 2: Space Age, Transportation, Winter, Music and More
The Best and Worst Candy Heart Sayings of All Time
Host a Valentine Tea Party
Make a Quick and Easy Valentine Feeder for the Birds
Hearts in Nature: A Valentine’s Scavenger Hunt
Enjoy this annual celebration of love!