The month of February is all about...
February is American Heart Month which is all about keeping your heart…and the rest of you...healthy with good food and exercise.
This month also includes the most romantic holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day!
Let’s explore more about the history and traditions of Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day has been celebrated as far back as the year 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius declared it a feast day for Saint Valentine.
But who was Saint Valentine?
No one really knows! There are at least three people throughout history who may have been honored for their part in Valentine’s Day, and they all have different stories.
But no matter who was responsible for the origin of this special day, it wasn’t until the 14th century that Saint Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love and more like the holiday we celebrate today.
How did people celebrate Valentine’s Day in the 14th century?
Valentine’s greetings were popular as far back as the middle ages. People created their very own cards and love letters from scraps of fabric material, lace, and paper.
The kinds of cards we send today were not available for purchase until the late 18th century.
In fact, what is thought to be the oldest known printed Valentine’s Day card is on display in York Castle Museum in York, England. It was printed, and hand-painted, in about 1797.
Here are some fun facts about Valentine’s Day throughout history and from around the globe:
❤️The very first Valentine love letter
The first Valentine’s Day greeting was written by a Frenchman, Charles, the Duke of Orleans, in 1415 to his wife. Unfortunately, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time, but his message still got through. His note is part of a collection of manuscripts in the British Library.
❤️A great day to get married!
February 14 is the most common wedding anniversary in the Philippines. The reason for that?
Huge group weddings! Hundreds of couples gather in mass ceremonies, which are often free, being sponsored by government officials-including flowers, rings, and even the cake!
❤️The origin of candy hearts
You know those little, pastel-colored, candy hearts with sayings like “Be Mine,” and “Love You”?
Back in 1847, a pharmacist, named Oliver Chase wanted to find an easy way to make medicinal lozenges. The small tablets were quite popular in the mid-nineteenth century for treating everything from sore throats to bad breath.
After making the tablets by hand for a while, which was very time-consuming, he developed a machine to quickly produce them. Mr. Chase went from making medicine to candy production by adding sugar and flavorings to his product.
They caught on quickly and NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) was born.
❤️Wooden spoons for love?
The Valentine tradition in Wales is to carve, or whittle, a spoon from a single block of wood to give to the person you admire most.
The blocks are carved into entwined hearts, beautiful Celtic knots, and various other designs.
❤️What about Valentine's Day flowers?
Flowers weren’t associated with Valentine’s Day until the 1700s.
In the romantic Victorian Era in England (named for the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901,) there was a code that went along with giving flowers.
Certain flowers and colors were combined to send a special message to the recipient of the bouquet. Secret flower arranging can be traced back to the time of the Hebrew Bible.
During the Victorian Era, there were even dictionaries to “decode” the language of flowers-known as floriography.
❤️Time to Party!
Valentine’s Day in Brazil is celebrated on June 12th, and is called Dia dos Namorados, translated as “Lover’s day,” or “Day of the Enamored.”
The traditional February date falls during Carnival Week, which is one of the biggest parties in the country. Check out The History of Brazil to learn more!
Now it’s your turn to create your own holiday traditions!
Break out the construction paper, markers, glue, and glitter and craft a personalized valentine to give to someone special to you!
Learn more about the "language of flowers" and put together a bouquet of flowers with a secret message!
Grab some candy hearts, or even better...bake some cookies!
Bake your own lovely heart-shaped Linzer cookies like those crafted in Austria from the world’s oldest written recipe. They're not just for Christmas!
You can find our Linzer cookie recipe and some of the ingredients in our World Holiday Treats Box.
Enjoy your special celebration and have a Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at eat2explore!