Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob – Valentine’s Day

Dear Uncle Bob and Aunty Louise:  Thank you for the opportunity to ask you questions. I want to know about Valentine’s Day, February 14.  I can tell from the stores that this might be a holiday for small children and adults too.  Would you please explain Valentine’s Day?


Uncle Bob:  Well, you got that right!  Valentine’s Day is for children and adults, but it’s very different for the two groups.  There’s a whole heap of history, and a bunch of advertising and marketing.  We’ll try to touch on it all.  Louise, why don’t you start with children…


Aunt Louise:  Valentine’s is not a school vacation holiday, but most children celebrate friendship and receive lots of candy at the end of the school day.  I remember helping decorate “mailboxes” for the classroom, and receiving quite a few lovely valentines our daughter made at school.  Many teachers sent home class lists, reminding the parents to have their child send valentine cards to everyone in the classroom, so no one was left out.


Uncle Bob:  But when it comes to teenagers and adults, it is more of a boyfriend/girlfriend or, as I prefer to say, sweetheart, sort of thing.


Aunt Louise:  But many of us say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” a lot, to lots of people.  Especially women, who buy 85% of the Valentine cards sold, which were first mass-produced in 1840.


Uncle Bob:  And that brings us to the possible origins of Valentine’s Day, which includes saints in the Catholic Church, named either Valentine or Valentinus, who was imprisoned for defying an order to not marry soldiers (Emperor Claudius II thought single men were better soldiers).  There were two other Valentines who wrote letters from prison.  There are several other ideas and stories of how the holiday may have started, but we really don’t know for sure.


Louise:  The oldest known written valentine is a poem by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.  Cards were first mass-produced in 1840.  I don’t remember if our parents gave candy or flowers to each other like folks do now, but those certainly have become popular the last few years.  Bob usually brings me some candy, and some years we’ve planted another rosebush in the garden.  (I like that the best of all.)


Uncle Bob:  Hmm…I guess I better get my act together, and go find another rosebush.  We hope to talk with y’all again soon!


Aunt Louise:  Yes, don’t forget to write to us at

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