January 18th, 2008
A LITTLE VALENTINES DAY HISTORY LESSON
When deciding on the right Valentine’s Day gift for a friend or loved one, it helps to know a little background on the occasion. That being said, here is a tidbit of Valentine’ Day history that you might not have known.
Using the language of the law courts for the rituals of courtly love, a “High Court of Love” was established in
The earliest surviving valentine is a fifteenth-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his “valentined” wife, which commences.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée… (Charles d’Orléans, Rondeau VI, lines 1–2)
At the time, the duke was being held in the
Valentine’s Day is mentioned ruefully by Ophelia in Hamlet (1600-01): “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day.”
In 1836, relics of St. Valentine of
In the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feastday of Saint Valentine on 14 February was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on 14 February.” The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan and in
The reinvention of Saint Valentine’s Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric Schmidt. In the
In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts in the
The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of “Happy Valentine’s Day.” As a joke, Valentine’s Day is also referred to as “Singles Awareness Day.”
In some North American elementary schools, students are asked to give a Valentine card or small gift to everyone in the class. The greeting cards of these students often mention what they appreciate about each other.