Valentine’s Day

miniature Valentines cards
© F H Powell 2009

Valentine’s day is celebrated in the West on 14th February and is chiefly associated with the exchange of cards, flowers and chocolate that signifies expressions of love. It is estimated that in the US alone around 1 billion Valentines Day cards are sent.

However, attributing these traditions to a single Saint Valentine is not possible. There were numerous Christian martyrs who went by the name of Valentine and until recently eleven St Valentine’s were recognised by the Catholic Church. The Valentine’s celebrated on 14th February are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni (an ancient town about 65 miles north of Rome). A third St Valentine who was an African martyr was also linked to this date but little is known of him. Neither of these martyrs of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD had associations with affairs of the heart, the common theory is that this emanated from the middle ages in France or England. Geoffrey Chaucer, the 14th century English poet, wrote about birds choosing their mates on Saint Valentine’s Day. It was unlikely that at this time of year wild birds began pairing up in preparation for the mating season. However the association with 14th February stuck even though it is more likely that Chaucer was referring to the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia on 2nd May 1381, coincidentally the same date St Valentine of Genoa was celebrated.

In 1849 Leigh Eric Schmidt wrote that St Valentine’s Day has become a national holiday in Graham’s American Monthly only two years after the first commercially produced Valentine’s Day cards had been sold in the US. The inspiration for this was a card sent from England to Esther Howland, daughter of a book and stationary store owner. Since then the practice of exchanging cards has increased along with the addition of gifts. Symbols of love such as hearts and cupid now adorn all kinds of items. Your dolls house too could join in the celebrations as we have a selection of Valentine’s Day items on our web shop.

teddy clothes
© F H Powell 2007