Ahh, Valentine’s Day. It comes every February 14th, and men all over the country stop and pick up the obligatory dozen roses, piece of jewelry, or box of chocolates.
But did you ever wonder about some of the early traditions of Valentine’s Day? And no, Valentine’s Day was not created by the department stores to get men to spend more money on jewelry.
For example, in the middle ages, men and women would draw names to see who their valentines were. Then for the next week, they would wear these names on their sleeve. Now wearing your heart on your sleeve means that it’s easy for other people to know your feelings.
In Wales carved wooden love spoons were given as gifts on Valentine’s Day. The most popular decorations were hearts, keyholes, and keys. The decorations meant, “You unlock my heart.”
In some countries, a young woman would receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If the woman kept the gift, it meant she’ll marry him.
It was believed that if a woman saw a robin flying on Valentine’s Day she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she’d marry a poor man and be very happy. And if she saw a goldfinch, she’d marry a millionaire.
And have you ever wondered where the tradition of giving Valentine’s Day cards began? The first valentine was sent by the Duke of Orleans after being captured in 1415. He sent it to his wife. Commercially, valentines were first produced by Esther Howland in the 1840s. She sold $5,000 in cards during her first year, an incredible amount of money at the time. Today over a billion valentines are sent each year to teachers, children, wives, and sweethearts, and are mostly purchased by women.
Giving flowers on Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the 1700s in Sweden when Charles II brought the Persian poetical art called “The Language of Flowers” to Europe. Throughout the 18th century, floral lexicons were published, allowing an entire conversation to take place with a bouquet of flowers.