History of Valentine’s Day

The history and origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat unclear. University of Notre Dame Professor Lawrence Cunningham states that most scholars agree on two theories as to how February 14th first became associated with romance.

1) Roman Feast of Lupercalia: This pagan feast, held on February 14, celebrated fertility and honored Juno, the queen of the Roman deities of women and marriage. The Roman tradition held that women would write love letters, or “billets” and leave them in an urn from which Roman men would draw. After drawing from the urn, men would pursue the writer romantically throughout the next year.

2) The Birds and the Bees: People in the Middle Ages sent love letters on Valentine’s day because Medieval Europeans believed that birds began their mating season on February 14th.

Saint Valentine

The traditional Christian celebration of Valentine’s Day honors Saint Valentine, however the actual historical underpinnings of this are a matter of considerable debate. The Catholic Church currently recognizes at least three different saints who were named Valentinus, two of whom lived during the 3rd century. Most experts agree that the religious Valentine’s Day was inspired by a 3rd century Roman priest named Valentinus who was imprisoned by Emperor Claudius II for performing marriages of his potential soldiers. Claudius believed that single men would make better soldiers, therefore he discouraged marriage. One interesting legend regarding this particular Valentinus holds that, while in prison, he became friends and perhaps even fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Before he was executed on February 14th, legend has it that Valentinus sent her a secret note signed “From Your Valentine”.

Early Christians chose to maintain that Valentine’s Day honored the saint of romance, rather than a pagan goddess and a festival in her honor. Pope Gelasius, in 486 A.D., declared February 14th as a day to honor Saint Valentine. Pope Paul VI opted to drop it from the Catholic calendar in 1969, but it was too late. The Valentine’s Day that we celebrate today was already here to stay, and seems to represent a blend of both pagan and Christian traditions.

Valentine’s Day Factoids

•The first commercial American valentines were produced by Esther Howland during the 1840’s

•Esther Howland sold $5,000 worth of cards in her first year of business, quite a lot of money for the time

•Over 1 billion valentine cards are sent in the U.S. each year

•About 85% of all valentines are purchased by women

•Most (numbers in the millions) of the boxes of candy and bouquets of roses are purchased by men


Definition of Love

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lufu; akin to Old High German luba love, Old English lEof dear, Latin lubEre, libEre to please

(1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties

(2) attraction based on desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers

(3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests.

Reprinted From:

Quotations About Love

“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”
--Leo Tolstoy

“With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love attempt.”
--William Shakespeare

“I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.”
--Napoleon Bonaparte

“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.”
--Elie Wiesel

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
--Katherine Hepburn

“I love people. I love my family, my children . . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.”
--Pearl S. Buck

“I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
--Alfred Tennyson


NECCO Candy Message Hearts

NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) was founded in 1847 by brothers Oliver and Silas Chase and it is the oldest multi-line candy company in the U.S. One of the most famous of NECCO’s products is the candy conversation heart, known as “Sweethearts”. These popular candies, closely associated with Valentine’s Day, were originally manufactured in other shapes, such as horseshoes and baseballs. Some of the original mottos used on the candies were “Be Mine” and “Kiss Me”. Today, Sweethearts are manufactured in heart shapes only, and, in order to keep their product relevant and current, NECCO adds new mottos each year, such as “Email Me” “Go Girl”.


The Human Heart

Historically, it was believed that the human heart was responsible for thought and feeling, as it was considered the home of the soul. Although modern science has taught us that the heart has nothing to do with human thought or emotions such as love, it is still common to reference the heart when talking about love.

The four chambered human heart weighs between 9 and 12 ounces, and is about ¾ the size of a clenched fist. Comprised of involuntary cardiac muscle, and enclosed in a sac called the pericardium, our adult hearts beat approximately 72 times per minute and 36.5 million times per year. If we multiply the normal, non-athlete output of blood by the average age of 70 years, we see that the cardiac output of the average human heart over a life time would be about 250,000 gallons!


Shellie’s Love Your Heart Granola

I eat this every morning as a breakfast cereal. In addition to being delicious (I promise), each and every ingredient is good for your heart!

•6 Cups Quaker Old Fashioned Oats

•1 Cup Wheat Germ

•1 Cup Walnuts, Chopped

•1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

•1 Tsp. Nutmeg

•1/2 Cup Honey

•1/2 Cup Canola Oil

•1 Cup Raisins

Mix oats, wheat germ, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl. Add canola oil and honey, mixing well to coat. Place in a large roasting pan and toast at 300 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. You’ll need to take the mixture out and stir it once every 10 minutes in order to ensure even coating and toasting. Once the granola is out of the oven, mix in the raisins and let cool.

Store granola in an airtight container and eat as a breakfast cereal or sprinkled on yogurt. It doesn’t work well as trail mix because the oats are small and it’s hard to eat with your hands.

Ginger's Family Fact


William Lee Rhodes was thirteen years older than Jennie Belle Hughes. They had known each other as young people, growing up in Effingham, Illinois. They saw each other frequently as Jennie was growing up, and they corresponded with each other while Jennie was at Saranac Lake, New York, caring for Ivra Shaw.

Willie proposed to Jennie in one of his letters to her, and she accepted. Willie had a lot on Virginia Avenue in Effingham, and Jennie mailed to Willie a design for the house she wanted. Willie had the house built to her specifications on the lot.

On August 12, 1917, Jennie, age 25, and Willie, age 38, were married at the parsonage of the Sargent’s Chapel Church in Decatur, Illinois. After the ceremony, they enjoyed a wedding breakfast at the home of Jennie’s sister, Gladys. Following breakfast, they traveled back to Effingham to start their life together in the house that Willie had built for Jennie

Martina McBride
/ Jim Brickman


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