Happy Valentine’s Day! This week marks our annual celebration of sweethearts and love. But wait a minute – is the middle of winter really the best time for romance? And what’s with the cards, chocolate and roses? Here are a few fun facts to sort out Valentine’s Day:
- While New Hampshire is still in a deep freeze, February heralds the start of spring in warmer climates. For the ancient Romans, it was a time for love and fertility. Festivals for Juno (the goddess of women and marriage) and Lupercus (the god of health and fertility) were celebrated in mid-February.
- So then, why not Juno Day? Who was Valentine? Not much is known except that he was an ancient priest, martyr and saint. To add to the mystery, there are a couple of saints by the same name. Their stories are vague and time has mingled and muddled the details.
- These shadowy figures share one thing – their support of love and marriage. Legend has it that one or the other Valentine boldly defied Emperor Claudius II. In an effort to boost army enlistment, the expansion-minded Roman ruler outlawed marriage. Unable to stand by while young lovers’ hearts were breaking, Valentine performed secret wedding cermonies. He was beheaded for his romantic deeds. Is it a coincident that he was executed on February 14?
- Legend suggests that Valentine fell head over heels for his jailor’s daughter. On the morning of his execution, the smitten priest sent a note to his sweetheart and signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” Whether the story is true or not, it started something. These days, Americans send close to 200 million Valentine’s Day cards every year.
- Speaking of cards, the industrious Esther Howland founded the first commercial Valentine’s card company in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1849. Her elaborate, handmade cards helped her grow the business to $100,00 in annual sales.
- Roses are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift. Perhaps it is because red roses were the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Millions, as in 224 million, roses find their way into bouquets on this romantic holiday.
- Long considered an aphrodisiac, chocolate is a delicious gift choice. The brilliant idea of selling chocolates in heart shaped boxed began in the 19th century with British chocolatier Richard Cadbury. This year, thirty-six million sweethearts will be happy to receive a heart shaped box of chocolates.
- Or forget the chocolate. Jewelry ranks high on the list of favorite Valentine’s Day gifts. As for diamonds – they are a girl’s best Valentine. About six million future grooms will pop the question on February 14.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and bon appétit!
2 ounces pomegranate juice, chilled
2 ounces Grand Marnier, chilled
8 ounces champagne or prosecco, chilled
Combine the pomegranate juice and Grand Marnier in small pitcher or mason jar and stir or shake to combine.
Divide the mix between two champagne flutes.
Carefully fill each glass with champagne and serve.
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How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share!
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019