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Just Outside My Door 02/09/12

February 15, 2012
By ELAINE G. COLE - CORRESPONDENT , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

I bring special Valentine greetings to you all though that special day doesn't arrive until next Tuesday. Usually we have plenty of snow by then, but if our weather pattern doesn't change we may still not have any. I doubt however if many will complain about it, except those who are anxious to go snowmobiling or skiing. Moreover, there's still lots of time to get that white stuff before spring comes. In fact we have often had blizzards as late as March and snow in April. Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures, they have surely shortened our winter. Whatever the weather is, there will be a Valentine's Day for it has been celebrated for many years the world over.

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, in the United States many schools have Valentine's Day parties. The children make special decorations for their classrooms and often decorate a Valentine's Day box to hold the valentines students bring in to exchange with all the children and their teacher. Records have been found of valentine notes that date from the 1400's.

Valentines often have romantic verses while others have humorous pictures and sayings. Many include "Be my valentine." Folk young and old share them with sweethearts, family and friends. Some are purchased in stores which have been advertising them for several weeks prior to Valentine's Day. Some people make the cards themselves using paper doilies, red paper, wallpaper samples, pictures cut from magazines and other scorches. Still others give gifts, flowers or candy to their loved ones. The latter is usually in a heart shaped box tied with a red ribbon.

That special day has been celebrated in a variety of ways over the years. Some of those customs still take place. Dances and parties are held on Valentine's Day. People in Italy celebrate by having a feast. Britain and Italian women get up before sunrise on that day and stand by the window looking for a man to pass by. They believe that the first man they see, or one that looks like him, will marry them within a year. The English playwright William Shakespeare mentioned this belief in "Hamlet" in 1603. One of the ladies in the play, Ophelia, sings:

Good morro.! 'Tis St. Valentine's Day

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your valentine.

Denmark folk send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to their friends. Danish men send valentines called goekkebray or "joking letter." The sender writes a rhyme and doesn't sign his name. The British borrowed many Roman festivals and some writers link the festival of Lupercalia with Valentine's Day because it is similar to the connection with fertility.

The earlier Christian churches had two or more saints named Valentine. One story relates the Roman Emperor Claudius II in the A.D. 200's forbade young men to marry. He thought single men made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine disobeyed the emperor's order and signed the valentine with dots, for each letter of his name. If the lady who gets it guesses his name, he rewards her with an Easter egg on Easter. Sometimes British people also signed with dots.

A variety of ways as to how Valentine's Day began have been stated. As I stated before, some think it was from the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia which was held to ensure protection from wolves. During that time young men struck people with strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they believed that the whipping made them more fertile. Others connect it with one of the saints and still others link it with the old English belief that birds choose their mates on Feb. 14. It probably came from a combination of all three sources plus the belief that spring is a special time for lovers.

There are still more strange things that formerly took place in places the world over, on Valentine's Day that can be found on the Internet. Probably some still happen, but I'm glad that however it really came into being, we celebrate it the way we do today.

Have a fun filled Valentine's Day and remember to express your love to family and friends.



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