Well My Friends, today is the day — St. Valentine's Day (see my Ode, above).
In my travels I've found that there are generally two schools of thought regarding this strange-but-here-we-are Holiday. People either adore it and look forward to it, or they despise it. It seems to draw a hard line between the camps and while I don't consider myself a wishy-washy person in general, I have to admit it: I'm a waffler on this one.
In my late teens and early twenties, I would not have been caught dead admitting that it is a fun, playful holiday. Long-stemmed, red roses and baby's breath would have had me running in the other direction. Admittedly, I'm still a little arrested regarding that poor baby's breath in the bouquet.
Of course later in life, I came to love Love. Heartfelt sentiment—no matter what the date—is always appreciated. Having spent the weekend helping my daughter with her Valentine's Day cards, it's sent me back to a time when Valentine's Day (in the States) was, for me, all cut-out paper doilies, red construction-paper hearts and glue. My husband and I were reminiscing about how as kids, we'd make these veryimportant decisions as to who gets what, and spend great amounts of energy and time choosing the perfect Valentine for your favorite people and friends. The Heart-Pockets hanging along the wall with your
classmates' names, and your own bounty at the end of the day was pure joy. And as I deep-down have always felt, it's always more fun as a "Friends Day". And personally, that seems to be where I am at today.
I was somewhat (darkly) amused to look into who Saint Valentine was, and it's remarkable that we've come to this current place. A quick search on Wikipedia pulls up this:
"... The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner—until Valentinus tried to convert the Emporer—whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdoms. The official Roman Martyrology for February 14 mentions only one Saint Valentine."
I'm sorry—beheaded? Just an early example of religion, politics and love, I suppose.
One legend says, while awaiting his execution, "Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter." Another legend says, "On the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine"." Okay, now we're getting a little closer to the "Be Mine" sentiments.
It was also found that in England and France of the Middle Ages, February 14 was believed to be the beginning of birds' mating season. This led to a tradition that romance should be celebrated in the middle of February. Valentine's Day began to flourish in England to the point where, by the 1700s, it was commonplace for people of all classes to exchange small gifts or handwritten notes to each other. During the Victorian era, mass-produced cards were popular forms of expressing love as direct expressions of one's feelings were discouraged.
Aha! Now it's coming together for me. The part about the feelings from the Fabulous Necco Candy Co.:
One of America's oldest candy companies, Necco, was founded in 1847 in Boston by Englishman Oliver Chase, who got the business off to a good start by inventing devices that cut candy lozenges and pulverized sugar. Necco ﬁrst sold confections similar to Sweethearts, but in the shape of a scallop. Messages written on colored paper were tucked inside the fortune cookie-style candy. The lengthy, old-fashioned sayings included such wistful thoughts as, "Please send a lock of your hair by return mail.". Can you imagine that little message today?
Fourteen years later, Oliver's brother, Daniel, designed a machine that stamped words directly on to the candies with red vegetable dye. Hey! It's sort of like letterpress printing only in this case, the genius-that-is-Daniel designed a machine that can print and die-cut at the same time.
So, I'm not sure if all of the above helps or hurts your position but I will say that I hope that wherever you are and whomever you are with, that you have a lovely, heartfelt day.