Be My Valentine - Or Would You Rather Have A Root Canal?

This February 14, like every other year since any of us can remember, adults and children alike will send, give or have delivered Valentine cards. They will range from the small, one-sided cards that parents buy in bulk for their youngsters to hand out indiscriminately or put in the Valentine box at school to the large, expensive kind with red padded hearts and lace that lovers exchange. There are funny cards, sexy cards and "personal" cards tht say "To My Fabulous Wife" or "To My Wonderful Husband" for those who want to make sure their card goes to  the right person - and Cupid has become as important as St. Valentine.

Valentine was a Roman priest who is believed to have been martyred on February 14, about AD 269, by being beheaded during the persecution of Claudius The Goth.  St. Valentine's feast day was dropped from the Roman Catholic calendasr in 1969 and the religious significance of the day is now over-shadowed by the nonreligious customs associated with it.

Some believe that the custom of sending Valentines on the feast day of the saint  began when he was imprisoned by the Romans because he refused to worship their gods. He had made friends with many chiuldren who missed him and tossed loving notes between the bars of his cell window.  According to another legend, the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry. The emperor thought single men made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine disobeyed the emperor's orders and secretly married young couples. And in a language spoken in Normandy during the Middle Ages, the word galentine sounds like Valentine and means lover. This resemblance may have caused people to think of St. Valentine as the saint of lovers.

It was a custom in England to write women's names on slips of paper and draw one from a jar. The person drawn was the drawer's valentine and was given a present, such as a pair of gloves.  In Italy, some unmarried women get up before sunrise on Valentine's Day and stand by the window watching for a man to pass. They believe that the first man they see, or someone who looks like him, will marry them within a year.  Commercial valentines were first made in the early 1800's. Many of them were blank inside, with space for the sender to write a message. Now it seems we have lost the imagination and flair to compose a message so we let the greeting card companies do it for us, such as:                     Roses are Redish, Violets are Bluish, If it wasn't for Christmas, We'd all be Jewish.

I say, let's get back to making up our own message. It doesn't matter if it doesn't rhyme. I feel certain whoever receives your valentine, whether they are six or 106, would prefer to hear what's in your heart rather than someone's at Hallmark.

Happy Valentine's Day!


t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012