Saturday, February 5, 2011

1856 - Valentine's Day

St. Valentine's Day.

This is St. Valentine's Day, and if there has not been a wonderful reform in the general mind, since February last, a great many foolish lines will be written, and a great many bad ones sent to silly girls and vanity-stuffed young men, before night fall. The origin of St. Valentine's Day is not known. Among the traditions we have the following:

Madame Royale, daughter of Henry IV. of France, having built a palace near Turin, which, in honor of the saint, then in high esteem, she called it Valentine; at the first entertainment which she gave in it, she was pleased to order that the ladies should receive their lovers for the year by lots, reserving herself the privilege of being independent of chance and of choosing her own partner. At the various balls which this gallant princess gave during the year, it was directed that each lady should receive a nosegay from her lover, and that at every tournament the knights's trappings for his horse should be furnished by his allotted mistress, with this proviso, that the prize obtained should be hers. These pleasant interchanges among the "young people" finally grew into a custom, and thus originated the exchange of love tokens on St. Valentine's Day.

All of which might have been very fine, but we need not say that the day is not thus observed in this country. Our beaux and belles are satisfied with a few miserable lines, neatly written upon fine paper, or else they purchase a printed Valentine with verses ready made, some of which are costly - many of which are cheap and indecent. In any case - whether decent or indecent - they only please the silly, and give the vicious an opportunity to develop their propensities, and place them, anonymously before the comparatively virtuous. The custom with us has no useful feature, and the sooner it is abolished the better.

The New York Times
New York, New York
February 14, 1856