Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nerd Alert: St. Valentine's Day!

It's Valentine's Day again! I've always liked this holiday, even when I didn't have somebody. I guess in a way it reinforced my hope of finding someone someday. In elementary school I always like giving and receiving cards and candy. My mom always bought us each a box of valentine cards to give to our classmates, but it always seemed that one box was never enough. We always had to make about 5 extra that didn't match the others at all. I think it was aconspiracy on the part of the card companies. Make us buy two boxes instead of one. Now I love making cards myself. My kids have little cards to give to their classmates and we taped a chocolate to each one. Mmmm, dove chocolates, so good. No envelopes, though. This year my kids made valentine mailboxes at school. I kinda wanted to do it, but I guess the teachers had something else in mind. Hey, it's their class; I'm not the boss. I still like this holiday now that I have someone to share it with. I think I have the best Valentine - Derek is awesome. He already gave me my present a few days ago. He got me the first three "Twilight" movies. He even watched a little bit with me, which was a huge surprise. He's kinda anti-Twilight. He did enjoy the ending of Eclipse, though. You know, the battle scene. I have to say, as far as battle scenes go it's one of the best that I've seen.
On another note, I'm a huge nerd, so I just couldn't post about Valentine's Day without going into the history of it. Here's what I found at history.com. Enjoy!

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl--possibly his jailor's daughter--who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and--most importantly--romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

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 valentines.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shoulda Taken the Camera

Tonight, the kids and I went to a Valentine's dance at church. It was a lot of fun. At first the kids didn't know what to do. Andrew said he was too shy to dance. Emmy would only hang on to me. Slowly they started to feel more comfortable. Andrew mostly ran around and played with a paper airplane, but he did dance to a few songs. Then some slow song came on and he asked the little girl sitting next to me if she wanted to dance. She said no, which surprised me. I told Andrew I would dance with him and so we did, but very soon the little girl had this look of regret on her face. I asked did she want to dance now and she did. I helped them get there hands into the right positions and they were very cute to watch. Emmy had a lot of fun dancing with an older girl she's friends with, but near the end she danced with a little boy her age. They were so cute together. Of course the room was dim, so my phone didn't take good pictures. I hadn't even thought to take a camera. My friend had planned to bring hers, but she also forgot. I guess we'll just have the memories. So, by the time we left Andrew was engaged to a little girl he's friends with. Not the same girl he danced with, but a different girl. Emmy was very excited that Andrew got engaged.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Frog Story

I know, I've been really bad. I haven't had anything cool enough to write about happen lately. The funniest thing happened today, though. So, the last couple of days Derek and I have been playing a sort of game with each other. One of the kids got a little toy frog for Christmas and Derek and I have been hiding it places for the other to find. This morning I found it in my closed laptop, so I put in in his shoe. I took the kids to school and when I got back Derek said he had hidden it. I was skeptical because it didn't seem likely he'd put his shoes on yet. I asked him how he knew where I put it. He said he knew as soon as I put it there. I said "how did you know it was in your shoe?" He said "you just told me." Ugh! I played his little game! I had to hide it again. Derek took the garbage out a little while later and he told me he would hide it while I was picking the kids up from school. I went out to my van and there it was on my steering wheel waiting for me. I laughed the whole way to the school.