February 14, 2007 Edition

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Valentine's Day

By Linda Lou Moore
Guest Writer

My funny valentine
By Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

My funny valentine;
Sweet, comic valentine;
You make me smile with my heart.

Your looks are laughable;
Yet, you're my favorite work of art.

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak, are you smart?

Don't change a hair for me;
Not if you care for me;
Stay, little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day. Songs have been written about it. Friends and lovers talk about it. What does a jail cell in 269AD, or the Tower of London in 1415, have to do with Valentine's Day? And, by the way, who was Esther Howland?

Popular legend states that Valentine, a priest, lived during the third century in Rome. During this time Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage of young couples because he needed the young men for the Roman Army. Valentine defied the Emperor's decree and continued to marry young lovers. When Claudius II found that Valentine ignored his decree, he sentenced Valentine to death.

While Valentine was in jail awaiting his execution, he was befriended by the jailer's daughter. On February 14, 269 A.D., the day of Valentine's death, he wrote the jailer's daughter a letter and signed it "from your Valentine."

Two hundred years later Pope Gelasius designated Feb. 14 in honor of Saint Valentine. Later, the date of February the 14th ushered in the practice of writing letters, cards and poems or giving gifts to loved ones. It is believed that in 1415, Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was jailed in the Tower of London, wrote rhymed love letters, which he called valentines, to his wife in France.

Approximately 400 years later, in 1840, Esther Howland, the daughter of a Massachusetts stationer, sold the first mass produced valentines. Not only have valentines become a traditional means of showing love or friendship, but there are other traditions as well.

Stories were often told that if a maiden saw a robin on Valentine's Day she would marry a sailor. If the maiden saw a sparrow on Valentine's Day, she would happily marry a poor man, and if a maiden saw a goldfinch on Valentine's Day she would marry a rich man.

Decorative items were often made with hearts and keys. If you received this type of gift, it meant that "you have the keys to my heart" or "you unlock my heart."

In times past, young men and women would draw a name from a bowl. The name they drew was their valentine. Then they would wear the name that they had drawn on their sleeve for one week. Hence, the popular saying "to wear your heart on your sleeve." The saying "wearing your heart on your sleeve" now means that you are showing how you feel.

No matter how you decide to spend Valentine's Day, remember that showing kindness to friends and loved ones can, as the song says, help make "each day, Valentine's Day."

Linda Lou Moore of Paragould is trained and certified by The Protocol School of Washington, Washington, D.C. She offers customized individual and group etiquette programs for children, teens and adults. She may be reached at Post Office Box 145, Paragould, AR 72451 or at manners@grnco.net.

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