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Valentine Card

On February 14, millions of Valentine cards are sent out to people of the opposite sex. Once individually written and now mass produced, they are light-hearted missiles of love. Either in prose or in rhyme, they voice amorous feeling. Mostly they are humorous, sometimes vulgar, and often accompanied by illustrations.

It is all a play of love, strongly spiced with sentimentality and fun. Who would think that this gay and harmless custom of budding romance began many thousands of years ago and has its origins in pagan tradition about the love-life of birds, an ancient lottery for sweethearts and, most of all, the martyr's death of a Christian bishop? The Valentine cards' popularity also testifies to the early Church's successful endeavor to Christianize heathen practice.

Long before the advent of Christianity, the middle of February was considered propitious for love. It was the season of Spring and birds started mating.

Roman mythology associated the day with the goddess Juno, worshiped especially by women at all crises of life. She was the "venerable ox-eyed" wife of Jupiter and the queen of heaven. Identified with the Greek Hera, she became the guardian of women and marriage, though significantly also a goddess of war.

Part of the pagan ritual honoring Juno was a unique kind of lottery. Young girls wrote their names on slips of paper and these were placed in a drum from which tie boys drew their luck. There were no blanks. The girl drawn by a young man became his sweetheart until the next annual draw.

All the world loves a lover, and Christianity was unable to uproot a day dedicated to the enjoyment of life and love. Therefore, the early Church appropriated February 14th for its own calendar, linking it with the martyrdom of St. Valentine.

Originally, Valentine was a pagan priest of the 3rd century A.D. He was converted to Christianity and became a bishop. The story is told that at the time the Roman Emperor Claudius had decided to abolish the institution of marriage, as he felt that husbands did not make good soldiers. He tried to enforce the new law with the utmost rigor.

Valentine considered such policy against the spirit of God and of human nature. He secretly married young Iovers, but not for long. He was arrested, imprisoned, and brutally murdered on February 14, 269 A.D.

Another (and more plausible) account, relates that Valentine frequently aided persecuted Christians, and that it was for this reason that he was thrown into prison. But even there he continued his saintly work, miraculously restoring vision to his jailer's blind daughter. But he was doomed. On February 14 he was clubbed to death. The date coincided with the ancient pagan feast of Juno, and ever since has been celebrated as St. Valentine's Day.

But the Church's desire to Christianize pagan practice did not end here. There was still the most popular part of the feast - its lottery for love. Those early theologians were men of the world and certainly did not live in an ivory tower. They knew only too well that one cannot suppress man's deepest urges, including his love of gambling - no matter for what.

Therefore they retained the ancient lottery but changed its prizes. The names of saints were substituted for those of girls! Now the lucky winners were expected in the ensuing year to match their life to that of the saint whose name they had drawn. This bored the participants. The girls recaptured the lottery drums, putting into them once again their own names, and the ancient love-play started all over again.

Then a final development took place. People were no longer satisfied with having their sweetheart chosen for them by chance. Their own choice, they felt, should take the place of luck. So on February 14 they began sending a gift, a card, or a set of verses to whomsoever they considered nearest their heart.

Often the cards were sent anonymously and it was left to the recipient to guess their author. Their text either stated briefly but to the point that "The honey's sweet and so are you" or went into most elaborate and passionate musings. Those who could not write their own words selected them from specially published handbooks, such as "The Young Man's Valentine Writer," which appeared in 1797. And that is how eventually the printed Valentine card came into existence. Its popularity was greatly fostered by the introduction of cheap postal rates.

It was only the new fashion of Christmas cards that ended the vogue of the Valentine. Though in its small and quiet way it still survives, hoping perhaps one day to recapture the imagination of young lovers.
Taken From: Webster's World Encyclopedia 2002.
Published by Webster Publishing, 2000.
Copyright Webster Publishing, and/or contributors.


Cupid with his Arrow Cupid, in Roman mythology, son of Venus, goddess of love. His counterpart in Greek mythology was Eros. He is best known as the young god who falls in love with the maiden Psyche; he is also known as a boy who shoots gods and humans with his arrows, causing them to fall in love.

Eros (mythology), in Greek mythology, god of love. He was the counterpart of the Roman god Cupid. In early mythology he was represented as the son of Chaos, and the embodiment of harmony and creative power. In Greek art Eros was depicted as a winged youth, often with eyes covered to symbolize the blindness of love. He commonly shot darts of desire into the bosoms of gods and men.

Psyche, in Roman mythology, princess so beautiful that the jealous goddess Venus ordered her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. Instead, Cupid fell in love with Psyche, but he forbade her from looking upon his face. When she did, he abandoned her. They were eventually reunited, and she was made immortal by the god Jupiter.
Encartaģ 98 Desk Encyclopedia © & 1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.
All rights reserved.




   Samples of Valentine sentiments for the Lovenote and Candy :o)   
You know what? I have a crush on you. Donít tell anybody, itís a secret. Happy Valentine's Day! Rodney Sherwood What thought youth gave love and roses, Age still leaves us friends and wine. Thomas Moore
Valentine's is a special day When we think of precious friends like YOU In such a delightful way. Anonymous A Valentine's wish for you. I hope itís filled with magic and love and a little nookie.
Rodney Sherwood
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, All in the morning betime. And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.
William Shakespeare
Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine, A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and shrine, All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers, And all the flowers were mine. Edgar Allen Poe


A Favorite Poem


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