Happy Valentine’s Day

Traditional hand embroidered Valentine’s Day card

I’m in a Valentine’s Day mood today, though it isn’t a holiday I grew up with. Here in New Zealand, sales of Valentine cards and gifts have picked up in the past couple of decades thanks to American television, but when I was a young lover, we barely gave the day a nod, though any excuse for a kiss was a good excuse.

But I’m celebrating the release of a Valentine box set, a collection of five historical novellas centred around a Valentines’ Day Ball in 1815 Bath, England, so I’ve been researching and thinking about this holiday for at around eight months.

I’m in the mood to do something special with my lover, my darling personal romantic hero, tomorrow. Steak for dinner, a glass of champagne, and who knows?

The oldest surviving Valentine is a bit of a sad story. After the Battle of Agincourt, the 21 year old Duke of Orleans was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he stayed for 24 years.

He wrote a letter to his young wife (she would have been 15 at the time), which is shown in the image above — a poem for Valentine’s Day. Here it is.

Original French     English

Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée,
Car pour moi fustes trop tart née,
Et moy pour vous fus trop tost né.
Dieu lui pardoint qui estrené
M’a de vous, pour toute l’année.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée.

Bien m’estoye suspeconné,
Qu’auroye telle destinée,
Ains que passast ceste journée,
Combien qu’Amours l’eust ordonné.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Ma tres doulce Valentinée.

I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too late,
And I for you was born too soon.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

Well might I have suspected
That such a destiny,
Thus would have happened this day,
How much that Love would have commanded.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

Of course, in our stories, the endings are much happier. I found this lovely Valentines advertisement in an 1819 newspaper in England. I wonder if the lady responded? I think there’s a story here, don’t you?People mostly made their own Valentines until the 1850s, when an American entrepreneur, a lady called Ester A. Howland began mass producing cards. Here are a couple of others from Victorian times.

And I just can’t resist leaving you with this one. What goes one step worse than being dumped by text? Being dumped by Valentines’ Day card!

Oh. And the book? Here’s some more information about it and the stories it contains, plus buy links.


4 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day

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