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History Historians trace the origin of Valentine's Day to ancient Roman Empire. It is said that in the Rome of ancient times people observed a holiday on February 14th to honor Juno - the Queen of Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also regarded Juno as the Goddess of Women and Marriage.
There are many legends about St. Valentine. Legends are stories that are handed down from the past. One of the costumes the young people liked was name-drawing. The names of the Roman girls were written on slips of paper and put into a jar. Each young man drew a slip. The girl whose name he drew was to be his sweetheart for a year.
A French princess, Madam Royal, named her palace ”The Valentine”. She had grand valentine parties in the early 1600’s. There were dancing and name drawing/ the princess did not draw a name. She chose her own partner, but she made her guests draw names. Each knight gave flowers to the lady whose name he drew. He gave her flowers at each dance they attended that year.
High Court of Love Using the language of the law courts for the rituals of courtly love, a "High Court of Love" was established in Paris on Valentine's Day in 1400. The court dealt with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading.
Legend about St. Valentine Valentine was a Bishop residing in Interamna in Italy in the Third Century. People adored Bishop Valentine and the fame of his holiness and miracles reached Rome. Valentine's was also linked with love because he is believed to be the first religious personage to oversee the celebration of marriage between a pagan man and a Christian woman. This Saint Valentine is believed to have been scourged, imprisoned and beheaded by Placidus, Prefect of Interanma.
In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. The English practice of sending Valentine's cards appears in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mr. Harrison's Confessions (published 1851).
Valentines of the mid-19th and early 20th centuries Esther Howland Valentine, circa 1850: "Weddings now are all the go, Will you marry me or no" Handwritten poem, "To Susanna" dated Valentine's Day, 1850 (Cork, Ireland) Comic Valentine, mid-19th century: "R stands for rod, which can give a smart crack, And ought to be used For a day on your back."
The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines cards are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes, And dupp'd the chamber-door; Let in the maid, that out a maid Never departed more. (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)
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