dearest miss, I send
a kiss," dated 1862.
Expressing love and affection with the people closest to you has been a tradition dating back thousands of years. Who is
St. Valentine and how did become the "patron saint of
early historical records are sketchy, we know that St.
Valentine was a martyr who was beheaded for his beliefs
in early Christian Rome.
the Middle Ages, St. Valentine was honored by the church
with a special feast day on February 14. Coincidentally, that
day was already known in local folklore as the date when birds
first began looking for a mate.
Naturally, all that cooing
and billing was enough to associate romance with St. Valentine
and the rest, as they say, is St. Valentine's Day history!
In fact, during the Middle Ages, it was a custom that young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression "to wear your heart on your sleeve."
By 1601, Valentine's Day was marked by famous playwright William Shakespeare in his famous play about the doomed Hamlet as his love interest Ophelia laments: “To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine."
Gloves were a popular way to
show affection on Valentine's
in the late 1700's.
By the late 1700's, gloves were a popular gift exchange when a lady would give to the object of her affection a fancy pair along with the traditional: “Good-morrow Valentine, I go today; To wear for you, what you must pay; A pair of gloves next Easter Day". If the man later gifted the lady in kind, the couple were officially sweethearts.
Decades later, Valentine's Day first began taking on its modern
look when during the Victorian era Valentine's Day love notes between sweethearts became wildly popular, leading to the exchange of gifts and flowers. Today, everything from homemade chocolates to diamond engagement rings are being hawked as appropriate gifts to give on Valentine's Day.
Although St. Valentine's Day celebrations have varied over the centuries from the simple to the elaborate, the sentiment remains exactly the same, with a day set aside for expressions of affection between romantic love birds -- a rosy sign that spring must surely be on its way!
More about Valentine's Day history around the Web:
of Valentine's Day - Great overview from the History
Channel with a video intro, a biography of St. Valentine,
with holiday customs and lore, quotes, a retelling of great
romances throughout history with related e-cards, dating tips.
Valentine's Day: History of the Card - The evolution
of Valentine's Day greetings, love notes and cards with a
discussion on different types of 19th century Valentine's
Day card available with sample verse.