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Valentine's Day: Its Image, Purpose and History; Sending Cards; Poem; Bowie's Song

Updated on September 13, 2018
annart profile image

Ann is interested in British traditions & their origins, especially when connected to writing.

The Image

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

Valentine Card from 1909
Valentine Card from 1909 | Source


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.

Shy Child

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

Love Seat
Love Seat | Source
Young Valentines - my parents
Young Valentines - my parents | Source

Your Valentine

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)

Lupercalia | Source

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.

David Bowie

Bowie the singer, song-writer, actor.......
Bowie the singer, song-writer, actor....... | Source

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.

Valentine's Cards

Do you send cards...

See results

Valentine's Day

Do you think it's just an excuse for commercial profit?

See results

© 2017 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello Devika! Good to see you and thanks for stopping by. I've had a break from writing much due to house moving but getting back into the swing slowly. Will try to read some of yours.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Ann, it's been sometime since I have stopped by at your hubs. I was on holiday in South Africa and spent three months there. It was fabulous! I enjoyed time with family. Valentines Day is a special day!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello Louise, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree; it's good to make it special. I appreciate you stopping by.


    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      It's been a long time since I sent or received a Valentines Card. I do like the fact that there's a special day set aside to show your love in a special way.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Alun. What a great story for a Valentine's Day and a superb addition to this hub (not hijacking at all!). I think a piece of needlepoint worked on for hours is much better than a Valentine's card.

      Good luck to both of you and I hope you have many happy years together.


    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      2 years ago from Essex, UK

      I've rarely given Valentines Cards, due to a sad lack of girlfriends over the years. Just recently that has thankfully changed, but my girlfriend is a Thai national, and they don't have quite the same Valentines Day card-giving traditions as us. What's more, I'd never actually been in Thailand on that date. Consequently I can honestly say that no one has ever given me a Valentines Day card in my entire life - sadly the best I've managed is an e-card.

      However, this year I was in Thailand on 14th February, and I chose to take my girlfriend Wanna to a restaurant on the 81st floor of the second highest skyscraper in Bangkok - the highest restaurant in the country. What's more we had a table on an open air balcony just 2 metres from a night time view over the glittering lights of the city below. After the main meal was over, I told Wanna that I'd ordered a special dessert for her. A few seconds later a waiter came to the table with a plate covered in a cloth, and under the cloth was the 'dessert' - a package. She had to unwrap the package - first, a sheet of gift wrap which covered a canvas pouch which contained another canvas pouch which contained more gift wrap around another layer of gift wrap which covered a box. Inside the box was another box. I was making her work for her prize!!! Inside the final box was an engagement ring. Wanna screamed and came round the table and we kissed and hugged. After years without a girlfriend, I now have a fiancee. And Valentines Day was for the first time a day of joy.

      Earlier she had given me a needlepoint picture she'd worked on for very many hours. I never did get a card though! :)

      Sorry to hijack your hub with my own personal story Ann, but I wanted to relate that Valentines Day can be a lonely day for many, as it was for me throughout the decades, but once in a while it can be the most special of days.

      It's a nice hub Ann, and well complimented by your poem. Alun

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Linda, for your double visit today! Glad you liked the poem. I've had an interesting Valentine's Day; I'm baby-sitting grandchildren and my 6 year old granddaughter had a card delivered to her by her 'boyfriend' from school (it's half term at the moment), along with a big hug and a kiss at the door - it was so sweet! They both looked suitably embarrassed and then went mad dashing round the house as usual!

      Good to see you.


    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the lovely poem and the interesting information, Ann. I'm happy to read this article on Valentine's Day! It's a great time to celebrate true love.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Mike! Much appreciated.


    • mckbirdbks profile image


      2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Brilliant poem. Nice history for the day and glimpse into what the day held for you.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hi Dora! Thanks for your kind comments. Love your story about the three cards - hilarious! What a good idea but wishful thinking I feel!

      Hope all's well with you.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Eric, for your great input. Yes, my grandchildren go mad making cards - any excuse and off they go! - which is lovely. I don't agree with such commercialism either which is why I prefer to just give my loved-one a little poem in a home-made card. I think the personal touch means more too.

      Good to see you today!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Glenys: Thanks for your interesting comments. I didn't know that sugared almonds were connected with weddings so that's good to know. Maybe that's the connection. I appreciate your visit, as always.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello Ruby! Thank you for your kind comments. I liked the Julia & Valentinus story too; I'd never heard it before. I like to make my own cards as it means I'm not feeding the commercial frenzy!

      Good to see you today!


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the history of "Your Valentine." Beautiful poem your wrote. Your mention of cards reminds me of a girl in my class who sent three Valentine cards because, according to her, she could make one good man by merging the good qualities from all three. She wanted top-quality love, I think. Happy Valentine to you, Ann!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks for the comments, bill. We don't do gifts, just our own cards, but if I'm lucky I might get some flowers! Trouble is, all the prices go up for special occasions which we both find unacceptable. I'm quite surprised that it's regarded as a holiday in the US as it isn't here, but then the UK is a place with the least bank holidays than anywhere I think; they're a mean lot, our government!

      Hope your weekend was good. I'm losing track of time - not sure what happened to mine! Anyway, have a marvellous Monday, bill.

      Ann :)

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hi Jo! It's not a holiday here but lots of people send the cards. Thanks for your comments and input. Always interesting to hear others' anecdotes and experiences.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Frank. Glad you enjoyed this.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My wife Hang and I just kind of give each other the questioning look when even the notion of spending money on it comes up. But there will be red roses and a home made valentine or 20 (seven year olds love making cards) We will splurge and the 3 of us go out. The roses of course come from my rose garden.

      Thanks for bringing it to life.

    • Glenis Rix profile image


      2 years ago from UK

      I was intrigued by the interesting story about the almond tree. I wonder if that is why sugared almonds are traditional wedding favours? Early wishes for a Happy Valentine's Day, Ann

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      The story about Julia and Valentinus was heart- touching. I have a special card that I've kept for years. I've never made my own cards, but I think it's a marvelous idea. I liked your poem. I could feel your love while reading. Sending cards to the ones we love is special. The history of St Valentine's Day was interesting also. Thank you...

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, let's see, where to begin? Bev and I don't fall under the retail spell on Valentine's Day. We refuse to buy special gifts for a retail holiday. LOL Stubborn that way, we are! Now, having said that, I loved the little history lesson...loved your reflections....and loved your poem. So that's three out of four for those keeping score, which pretty much reflects my scoring in college. LOL

      Have a brilliant weekend, Ann!


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This hub is well written and interesting as always, Ann, and a timely reminder that I have to write poem for a card for my loved one. I do it almost every year. I like the story of Valentinus and Julia and it is the one I prefer to believe.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      2 years ago from Tennessee

      When I was in school we made a big deal about Valentine's Day. Everyone had cards to share with classmates. We always signed them. The tradition of not signing didn't catch on here. We always made boxes to put all of our cards in and decorated them. That tradition continued until my children were in school and then died out. It's a fun holiday, very commercialized.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      I like the information, the bowie lyrics and your poem.. I do think it is a commercial venture, but what isn't? LOL great share

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, whonu. I appreciate you stopping by and your loyal following. I have a few of yours to read and I will get round to it!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, Flourish. Glad you enjoyed this. We don't have an actual holiday here, nor do we do special food though some restaurants make a fuss if couples are out for a 'Valentine's' meal. People tend to stick to the cards. Good to see you today and thank you for reading.


    • whonunuwho profile image


      2 years ago from United States

      Very informative about this special day, my friend. Thank you for sharing your nice poem. Blessings to you and loved ones. whonu

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed your poem and learning about the history surrounding one of my favorite holidays. Since I was a child my family has always made a fuss over this holiday so I now do it too with desserts, heart-shaped red biscuits in the morning, cards, etc.


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