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. 

LEO TOLSTOY (1828-1910)

Valentine's Day


If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?

RING LARDNER (1885-1933)

He gave her a look you could have poured on a waffle.

Valentine’s Cards

The first man to send a Valentine’s note was, naturally, a Frenchman. Charles, Duke of Orleans, was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. He remained there for 25 years and wrote 60 love poems addressed to his wife, which are claimed as the first formal ‘Valentines’. One even refers to her as ‘Ma très doulce Valentinée’.
Later, books of sentimental poems were published to help lovers express their feelings in polished verse. These were often practical how-to books, such as one published in 1797 called The Young Man’s Valentine Writer. From this it was a short step to producing ready-printed cards with rhymes known as ‘mechanical verses’ which were often sent anonymously. In the 1840s a young American woman, Esther Howland, received an English ‘Valentine’ and decided to introduce the tradition to America. She mass-produced lace-decorated cards carrying messages like ‘Weddings now are all the go, Will you marry me or no?’ 

Saint Valentine

Like many saints, actual details about Valentine’s life are hard to come by. There are at least three saints with that name, but the famous one was a Christian priest (or possibly a bishop) who lived in Rome in the 3rd century. He was imprisoned, beaten with clubs and eventually beheaded on the orders of the Emperor Claudius II, all for being a Christian: not a terribly promising start for the saint of love.
Luckily, Valentine’s execution coincided with the pagan festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to Juno, the goddess of women and fertility. At this event, so some scholars assert, boys drew girls’ names from a jar and became coupled with them for the rest of the festival, and sometimes the rest of the year. After Pope Gelasius set aside this day to honour St Valentine in the year 496, the latter was gradually adopted as the patron saint of lovers.
Valentine’s canonical responsibilities were later extended to include epilepsy, fainting, greeting card manufacturers and plague. 


Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.

MOTHER TERESA (1910-1997)

We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.

Vinegar Valentines

The Victorians sent enemies 'Vinegar Valentines' - abusive Valentine's cards designed to make fun of the recipient. They consisted of an insulting drawing and a rude poem. Some were designed for lovers who had rejected you; others were for people who had been rude to you, or for neighbours or friends you disliked. A huge range of insults were available: you could accuse people of being drunk, ugly, obese or stuck-up. There were even specific cards for grocers, abusing them for cheating customers.
Vinegar Valentines were invented in the 1840s – sadly, few survive today because most people (naturally) threw them away rather than preserving them. Many were sent without pre-payment, meaning the recipient had to pay to be insulted. They later spilled out from Valentine's Day and were sold all year round.
The golden age of Valentine's cards was between the 1840s and 1890s, when they were sent in vast numbers. Some had scented sachets; others were pop-up or musical cards. Still others had puzzles on them or exploded like Christmas crackers. The most expensive had up to 700 pieces.

Love Birds

The idea that Valentine’s Day is when birds start to mate originated in the 14th century, and bird superstitions relating to the occasion have been common ever since.
In Cornwall on 14th February each year, young men used to go on an early morning hunt to catch an owl and two sparrows in a net. If they could capture the birds, without injury, and get to the inn before the women of the house had risen, they were rewarded with three pots of ale laced with a shot of wormwood. No records are kept of what happened to the birds.

Valentine’s cards temporarily fell out of fashion in Britain in the 1890s because they had become too indecent.

All rose petals are edible, and can be used to make milkshakes, sherbet, cake, cookies and sauces.

Heart-Shaped Box

The traditional Valentine’s ‘heart’ shape might derive from the seed of the silphium plant, used in ancient times as a herbal contraceptive. Early visual representations in religious art made the heart look more like a pine cone.
The characteristic indentation in the top of the heart first appeared in a book called Documenti d’Amore by the Tuscan artist Francesco da Barbarino in 1347. Barbarino worked in Bologna, where human anatomy was all the rage, so it is likely he had seen human hearts first-hand. 

The casket containing the ‘remains’ of St Valentine was lost in the cupboard of a Dublin church until the 1950s.

A billion Valentine’s cards are sent each year. 85% are bought by women, but men spend almost twice as much on the day.

The island of Galesnjak in Croatia is a perfect, naturally-formed heart shape.

PLATO (428bc - 348bc)

Love is a grave mental illness.


I don't know who St. Valentine was, but I hope he died alone, surrounded by couples.


If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so that I never have to live without you.

Penicillin – the most common treatment for syphilis – was invented on Valentine’s Day 1928.

Based on retail statistics, about 3 per cent of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.

In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä, which translates into “Friend’s day”.