February 12, 2014
Although the mercury seems to be stuck way below freezing with still no sign of a thaw in sight, at least there is something warm and fuzzy for us to look forward to this week: Valentine’s Day!
Conversation hearts, chocolates, and cards of pink and red make their way onto store shelves for our loved ones to purchase, or make if they are crafty (Mormor always said, “something made comes from the heart!”), and surprise us with on this traditional day of love.
Rifling through the hope chest recently I was surprised to find an actual Valentine from long ago. It was to Emma from James, but was undated. I was so excited to read his tender words to the woman he loved so dearly:
My dearest Emma, my love for you shines brightly now as it did the day we met. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth and I am thankful for our years together.
Ever yours truly, James
It’s not too different from our Valentine’s messages today. You have to understand my confusion though, since I’ve always thought that Valentine’s Day was one of those holidays invented by card companies to inevitably sell more cards. However, when I looked into this to quell my curiosity I found that I had been very wrong all along, at least about how long Valentine’s Day has been associated with romantic love, that is.
St. Valentine was a third-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14, but not much is known about him. During the High Middle Ages (11th – 13th centuries) the poems and writings of Geoffrey Chaucer (known as The Father of English Literature) were becoming more pronounced and popular, and the tradition of courtly love flourished in part due to his influence. February 14 became symbolic of love and devotion.
In the 18th-century, it evolved into an occasion in which admirers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offerings of confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). In the 19th century this day became very popular in America and handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards and the like that we know today. Learn so much more about Valentine’s Day history here.
In the early 1990s, the Danes began to celebrate Valentine’s Day as the great day of love, inspired by the American custom. It is especially children and people in love who use the day as an occasion to show their love for one another. Funny rhyming poems called gaekkebrev are written and not signed by the sender. The recipient is supposed to guess who their secret admirer is. Learn more about Danish Valentine’s Day traditions here.
Well I know that this week Mormor and her friends are keeping busy with all of the Valentine’s festivities at The Danish Home, including a card making class, chef’s presentation (perhaps some sweet treats?) and some Valentine’s fun and games on Friday. I can’t wait to get back for another visit, but I’ll definitely be there for The Danish Home Family Night on the 27th. It’ll be so much fun to see all of the resident’s families and have a wonderful dinner and evening together!
Farvel until next week and Glad Valentinsdag (Happy Valentine’s Day) to you!
View our Valentine’s Day Pinterest board for some great Valentine’s ideas, beautiful Victorian Valentine’s, recipes and crafts!