Americans began exchanging hand-made Valentines in the early 1700s. Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced Valentines in America in the 1840s. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” and made creations with real lace, ribbons, and colorful photos. Today, it is estimated that 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card sending holiday. (Christmas is # 1)
The religious history and meaning of Saint Valentine started back on February 14, 269 A.D. who was killed for his faith on this day. He had refused to worship pagan gods, and some stories say he was a priest who would marry young couples who loved each other, in secret, but did not have parental permission. In the year 496, his “Saint Day” was established. He is associated with “Love” because he fell in love with the daughter of his jailer, and would pass love notes to her. His final note before he was executed, read “from your Valentine.”
In Italy, Valentine’s Day is greeted by a feeling of energy, spirit, and romance throughout the country. Showering of gifts such as; the sweet scent of flowers, sparkling diamonds, mouth watering chocolates and expressed words of love are believed to be the best way to communicate your feelings. Valentine celebrations were usually conducted outside centuries ago. Spring time is the season, when birds look for mates to propagate, which is why Valentine‘s Day is celebrated with great passion. Young men and women would gather around trees and gardens as they would listen to poetry or music.
Italian stores get decorated several days ahead of February 14th and prepare filling their shops with a variety of chocolates and candies. A delicious treat is called Baci, by Perugina, which is a small chocolate enclosed with a hazelnut filling. In its wrappings, a loving lyrical quote is expressed in four languages. Another wonderful idea to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to organize a candlelight dinner, with music, and wine overlooking the Italian country side.