It’s a funny thing: I haven’t received a valentine in years. It used to be that every time Feb 14 rolled around I’d get at least one or two valentines, but for some time now they’ve stopped. I wonder why? In any case the approach of Feb 14 besides setting me to wondering where my valentines went also set me to pondering the origin of Valentine’s Day. We all know that it’s really St Valentine’s Day and so presumably it’s named after a saint named Valentine but who was Valentine and how did he get his name connected with flaming romance?
I’m indebted to Hallmark Cards for supplying me with the answers and the movies I cry through each week.The first valentine it seems was sent many many years age away back in the third century as a matter of fact. The sender was a young Roman named Valentinus.The story doean’t say that Valentinus was a Christian, but it does say that he made friends of Christians and aided them in those days that was a mighty dangerous thing to do.
And so first thing yon know poor Valentinus ran afoul of the Emperor Claudius II and ended np behind bars. While he was in prison Valentinus met and made friends with the blind daughter of his jailer. Their friendship blossomed and — so the story goes — Valentinus restored the girl’s sight. Even this miracle wasn’t enough to turn the heart of the emperor however and Valentinus was sentenced to die for his assistance to the persecuted Christians. On Feb 14 he was put to death and his body was buried in what today is the Church of Praxedes in Rome.
However on the night before he died Valentinus wrote a farewell message to the jailer’s daughter which he signed: “From your Valentine.” And so it all began and flowered until today the name of Valentinus has come to be synonymous with affection among friends and love among aweethearts. Well it could be that love and affection are the dominant feature of Valentine’s Day.
Yes, that was a Hallmark card!
But do you remember the days of the “funny” valentines? When I was in school the humorous valentine was all the rage. And truth to tell some of them weren’t really funny at all SOME WERE CRUEL. I can still remember the outrage that some cards aroused in their recipients Even worse were the ones which didn’t outrage but deeply hurt the person who got them.
“Roses are red violets are blue all skunks stink and so do you” was a particularly obnoxious valentine verse which I recall. Then there were the ones featuring a grotesque character wearing a dunce’s hat or a big fat lady trying to squeeze sideways through a door. The main thing about these “funny” valentines was trying to guess who had sent them to you, And then — if they weren’t too big — beating the living ‘be jabbers out of them. They tell me that “funny” valentines are pretty well passe now,and I am glad to hear it. Today it seems that sentiment is back in style although not to the extent of earlier days when some of the verses were enough to turn your stomach.
Whether valentines are sentimental funny ridiculous, or even cruel, they all have one purpose in mind and that is to deliver a message And, the message practically always gets through in spite of all difficulties There is the story of a painfully shy soldier who wrote a valentine letter to a French girl. The letter was in English and the girl spoke nothing but French, but it hardly seemed to matter since the boy was too shy to write anything but comments on the weather. Imagine his surprise when on their next meeting the girl rushed into his arms and smothered him with kisses They got along fine after that and in due course were married. After they’d been married awhile the soldier got up enough courage one day to ask his beloved what it was in his letter that had aroused her.
“Why it was the kisses you put on the envelope” she replied happily producing the envelope for him to see. Sure enough there were the kisses — a whole row of x’s made by the post office cancelling machine.
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