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Valentines Gifts for Everyone

Valentine’s Day is celebrated the world over.  It is a time of romance and renewal as February 14 is close to the time when spring is in the air in many places.  The history of Valentine’s Day is a little unclear and no one is really sure who St. Valentine was.  Some legends would have it that February 14 was the day that St. Valentine died in prison, after he was incarcerated for helping Christians to escape from roman prisons.  Other legends have it that he was put to death because he was performing marriages for young men in secret, after they were outlawed by Emperor Claudius II, who thought that unmarried men made better soldiers.

Although the history is unclear, there is also a fairly clear connection between Valentine’s Day and the feast of Lupercalia, which was a local feast celebrated in Rome.  On this day, the pagans would sacrifice a sheep and then dip the hide in blood and run through the town slapping women and fields, to promote fertility.  Legend also has it that all the bachelors in town would put their names into a pot, and those whose names were pulled were soon led into marriage.

In Britain, the celebration of Valentine’s Day was not popularized until the 17th century and people celebrated it by exchanging handmade notes and tokens.  It is also sometimes said that St. Valentine himself was the first one to send a Valentines card when he was imprisoned.  Word has it that he fell in love with a girl, and sent her a letter before he was put to death that was signed, from your Valentine.  With the advent of the printing press the exchange of cards at this time quickly became more widespread.  The cards as we know them today range from the very humorous to the more sentimental and romantic.  The images associated with valentines are hearts, cupids and angels, among a few other things.

For most people, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with cards that are either homemade or store bought, as well as chocolates and various heart shaped candies, like cinnamon hearts.  If you would like to try your hand at making cards, designs and templates are widely available on the internet, as well as special punch out cards.  Your cards can be anywhere from two dimensional flat creations, to three dimensional pop up creations.  There are also many wonderful materials available that you can use, such as lace doilies, textured papers, ribbons, pipe cleaners etc.

Valentine’s Day is always a big deal for children and many children exchange cards with their friends at home and at school.  They sometimes make their cards at school but they are often made at home, with the assistance of a grown up.  In many families there are also traditions, such as baking special heart shaped cookies and decorating the house with Valentine’s Day themes.  Some families and schools also continue the practise of picking names out of a pot.  Of course it doesn’t mean the children will marry; it is usually done to decide who will exchange cards or gifts.

 

This article was published on Thursday 07 January, 2010.



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