Valentines Day 2018

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

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Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all.

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Just a little Heart Attack

the crafty lady in combat boots

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Inspired by the true stories of real women impacted by heart disease, the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement and Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks created the short film, “Just a Little Heart Attack,” to educate women about the realities of heart disease and encourage them to put their health first. The short film, directed by and starring Ms. Banks, chronicles one woman’s experience ignoring her symptoms and putting herself last. Go Red For Women hopes the film, “Just a Little Heart Attack,” will engage and inspire women to put their health first and take care of their heart.

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February Fun Facts

The 2nd month of the year brings us George Washington’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day, and the shortest month of the year.

In the Gregorian calendar, the calendar that most of the world uses, February is the second month of the year. Most of the months have 30 or 31 days in a month but February is shorter. February has 28 days until Julius Caesar gave it 29 and 30 days every four years. This is because the Roman emperor Augustus took one day from February and added that to August because August was a month that was named after him. February is a very cold month followed by January in the northern half of the world. However, there are sunny days in February that indicates that spring is almost here. Different from the northern half, the southern hemisphere usually enjoys midsummer weather.

Below are some fun facts about February:

  1. The birthstone for February is Amethyst.
  2. Two zodiac signs for February are Aquarius (January 20 – February 18) and Pisces (February 19 – March 20)
  3. The month has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four. In common years the month has 28 days.
  4. Viola (plant) and the Primrose are the birth flowers.
  5. Black History Month is celebrated in Canada and United States.
  6. National Day of the Sun is celebrated in Argentina.
  7. In order to complete the Soviet Union’s victory in Stalingrad during World War II, the last German troops surrendered in the Stalingrad pocket.
  8. On February 4, 1861, a temporary committee met at Montgomery, Alabama where they organized a Confederate States of America.
  9. On February 6, 1933, Amendment 20 to the United States was proclaimed which moved the Inauguration Day to January 20th.
  10. In February 1910, the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated.
  11. On February 6, 1899. The U.S. Senate ratified the peace treaty that led to the end of the Spanish-American War.
  12. On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
  13. February 11 – National Foundation Day in Japan
  14. February 12 – Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
  15. February 14 – Valentine’s Day
  16. February 21 – International Mother Language Day
  17. February 22 – Independence Day in Saint Lucia
  18. February 22 – George Washington’s Birthday
  19. February 24 – Flag Day of Mexico
  20. February 25 – People Power Revolution (Philippines)

This month is very important to me. My mom passed away after having a major heart attack and we never knew she had heart problems. Get your heart checked and watch for the signs of a heart attack!

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