Valentine's Day: Its Image, Purpose and History; Sending Cards; Poem; Bowie's Song
Images associated with Valentine’s Day are most often hearts, sometimes cupids with arrows, sometimes red roses. The well-known rhyme ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you’ is regarded as rather passé these days but sincere, romantic poetry is a must if you want to impress your target and profess your undying love.
Of course, there are humorous cards which cover embarrassment or can even be sarcastic but they miss out on conveying sincerity or commitment. The choice is yours.
Hearts and Cupids
There is a certain safety in sending such a card, of course, because tradition allows it to be anonymous. In fact, it’s intended to keep the recipient guessing. You can drop hints, leave clues in the words, or be as obvious as you like, but signing is not required.
Keeping someone guessing adds to the romance, retains an air of mystery. It also lets you off the hook should the object of your heart’s desire reject the advances. The worse scenario is if someone guesses wrongly, especially if their affections lay elsewhere and they imagine the feelings are reciprocal. In this situation, sadness and rejection lie. That’s one reason I always thought they were risky missives.
My earliest memories of Valentine’s cards are of dread and embarrassment; dread of not getting any and embarrassment of getting one. I don’t remember ever sending any at primary school as I was far too shy and would have been terrified of someone finding out! I remember getting one but never knew from whom.
Not until I was older did I send any; even then I played safe and only sent one to someone I was already going out with. What a coward! Having said that, I can’t actually remember wanting to send one to anyone else.
Older and Wiser?
I took to composing my own as I find that more effective, sincere and personal. However, for the last twenty-odd years, they have been directed at the same person but still seem to be appreciated. It’s an excuse to be a little more sentimental than usual, to show our feelings when maybe we think it’s a bit soppy to do so. Personally, I think it’s good to tell someone you love him or her. It boosts morale, self-esteem and mood. It makes the sender feel good too, wanting to convey kindness and love, apart from the benefits of repeating sentiments that are probably recognised but often need reinforcing. In general, I believe we don’t tell others often enough that we love them. Every day is best.
I still don’t sign them, though I’d be very upset should he think they came from someone else! The give-away is that they’re usually on the pillow or bed-side table in the morning.
Red Rose - Symbol of Love
Commit Pen to Paper
You have a few days left to send your words of love to whomsoever you please, to lift someone’s day, whether the words be passionate or just kind. Take up your best (preferably fountain) pen, and in your most perfect handwriting convey exactly how you feel as best you can, deliver your message and wait with a beating heart for a response. Even if it never comes, you’ll know you did your best.
Centre the message on the page. Use a soft colour, like green or lilac or deep red. If you're artistic, illustrate the edge or part of the page.
Here are a few phrases which might help:
Your smile lifts my heart.
I love your deep blue (brown/hazel…) eyes.
Thank you for helping me through the day.
Thank you for listening.
You make me feel that life is good.
I’d love to spend more time with you.
I’m sure you can come up with many more to suit your personal situation.
A Poem to my Love
Through the years we’ve shared together
You and I have learnt so much.
Love and life and one another,
how to talk, to reach, to touch.
Smiles and laughs, some tears and sadness,
thoughtless deeds we never meant,
always we see through the madness,
realise why this love was sent.
The love of my life is by my side,
I pray that you will stay.
My heart skips still, I cannot hide
the way you make my day.
As we grow old, our hearts still young,
we make more memories, finding
that all the friends we move among
need, just like us, reminding
that all our lives are nothing more
than the love between us, shining.
I love you.
Ann Carr 2017
Love Seat and Young Valentines
Will you send a Valentine’s card this year? Will it be your first, one of many or your last? Whatever it is, I’d like to wish you a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’; may it bring you all the love in the world.
Soft Colour, Soft Words
How did it all Start?
An estimated one billion cards are sent on Valentine’s Day. Let’s look at the history of this tradition.
Like many religious festivals, the holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on the 15th February. Pope Gelasius the First recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day, circa 496, declaring the 14th February to be St. Valentine's Day.
A slightly different version of this is that Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on the 14th February of different years in the third century AD. Their martyrdom was honoured by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St Valentine's Day, as a liturgical celebration of one or more of those early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to the 14th February.
Lupercalia (from 'lupus' - wolf)
One Version of the Story of St Valentine
The story of Valentine's Day begins in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian Martyr. The emperor was Claudius II. The Christian was Valentinus.
Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians. But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ; not even the threat of death could keep him from practicing his beliefs. He was arrested and imprisoned.
During the last weeks of Valentinus's life a remarkable thing happened. Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons. She had been blind since birth. Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind. Valentinus read stories of Rome's history to her. He described the world of nature to her. He taught her arithmetic and told her about God. She saw the world through his eyes, trusted his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.
"Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?" Julia asked one day.
"Yes, my child, He hears each one.”
"Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night? I pray that I might see. I want so much to see everything you've told me about!”
"God does what is best for us if we will only believe in Him," Valentinus said.
"Oh, Valentinus, I do believe! I do!" She knelt and grasped his hand.
They sat quietly together, each praying. Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell. Radiant, Julia screamed,
"Valentinus, I can see! I can see!”
"Praise be to God!" Valentinus exclaimed, and he knelt in prayer.
On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, "From your Valentine." His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory. He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave.
Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. On each February 14, Saint Valentine's Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world.
Emperor Claudius II
David Bowie's Song
This is a shockingly different angle on Valentine’s Day, based on a true incident of a shooting.
‘Valentine's Day’ is a song by English rock musician David Bowie and is the fourth single from his 24th studio album ‘The Next Day’. The single was released on 19 August 2013. This would be David Bowie's last 7” single issued from a new album in his lifetime. The lyrics are based on the psychology of a shooter named Valentine.
Bowie's 'Valentine's Day' Lyrics
Valentine told me who’s to go. Feelings he’s treasured most of all.
The teachers and the football star.
It’s in his tiny face. It’s in his scrawny hand. Valentine told me so.
He’s got something to say. It’s Valentine’s Day.
The rhythm of the crowd. Teddy and Judy down. Valentine sees it all.
He’s got something to say. It’s Valentine’s Day.
Valentine told me how he’d feel. If all the world were under his heel. Or stumbling through the mall.
It’s in his tiny face. It’s in his scrawny hand.
Valentine knows it all. It’s in his scrawny hand. It’s in his icy heart.
It’s happening today. Valentine Valentine.
Note: Two of Valentine’s victims were called Teddy and Judy; were these the football star and a teacher, as mentioned in the lyrics? These words are chilling, implying premeditation and a feeling of hatred towards the world. ‘Valentine’ conjures the opposite, the idea of love and togetherness; this killer was tragically mis-named.
Do you send cards...
Do you think it's just an excuse for commercial profit?
© 2017 Ann Carr