Traditional gifts for Valentine's Day

 

Dawn Fossand

Traditionally, in the United States – we celebrate Valentine's Day by giving flowers, cards and chocolate. However, have you ever wondered where these traditions may have come from?

According to several online sources, the tradition of giving flowers to our "sweethearts" on Feb. 14 began in the 1800's, since roses, which (past and present) represent love – were the flowers of choice for the day.

It is offered that roses were the favorite flower of Venus, the goddess of love, because they represented strong emotions. As a result, lovers began giving flowers to those they cared about to show their love for each other.

Red roses are given to symbolize romantic love while pink roses are a symbol of gratitude and appreciation.

The white rose is associated with spirituality and new starts, the orange rose denotes enthusiasm and passion and the yellow rose is traditionally a symbol of friendship joy and good health.

Have you wondered about the tradition of giving cards to our school classmates? A Charlie Brown cartoon? No, but rather a Duke of Orleans, named Charles. It is written that in 1415, Charles wrote a poem for his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London on Valentine's Day. For what, you might ask – killing his father, Daddy Duke aka Louis I. (Quite the "romantic guy," right?) Charles is now remembered not for murder, but for poetry, and thus the tradition of card giving on Valentine's Day continues.

By the 16th century, cards had become so common on Valentine's Day that several religious leaders preached against them. When the average person gained access to sending cards through the mail, Valentine's Day cards became even more popular in the 19th century. Presently it is estimated that around six-hundred million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged by children with teachers, classmates and family members.

Finally, what would Valentine's Day be without chocolate? Well, we can all thank the Spanish explorers who brought chocolate back to the Old World from the New World in the 17th century. Soon enough the popularity increased in Europe and chocolate, possibly for its aphrodisiac effects, became the candy of choice for the lovers' holiday.

Now that you know the history of the gifts of Valentine's Day, you can understand the reasons behind the roses, cards and chocolate and help those around you appreciate the holiday more. However, don't stop there. Try and create your own traditions for Valentine's Day. Who knows – generations from now – lovers may be following your personal tradition for the holiday and writing about you.


 

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