One of the most popular stories explaining the origins of St Valentine’s Day comes from ancient Rome during the rule of Claudius II. Claudius noticed that young married men were hesitant to join the army and march off to participate in his wars. To cure that, he declared marriage illegal. A priest named Valentine (are you starting to get it?) decided that was just so wrong, so he secretly started marrying anyone who was willing to make the commitment. Claudius, nasty fellow that he was, threw Valentine in prison with a death sentence. Young ladies, to thank Valentine for his efforts on their behalf, would go to the prison and leave flowers and notes for him. Sadly, Claudius was unimpressed and Valentine was put to death. The church declared him a saint and billions of people, world wide, unknowingly celebrate this brave priest every year.

Centuries later the February holiday was established to celebrate love, romance and the story of St Valentine. The first known Valentine was given by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415. Several years later, King Henry hired a writer, John Lydgate, to write a Valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

The holiday became popular in the 17th century. By the mid18th century it was common for friends and lovers to exchange notes and small gifts as tokens of affection. By 1900, printed cards began to replace the handwritten note. It is estimated that about one Billion Valentines are sent, world wide, each year making it the second largest card giving holiday, the first being Christmas.

We at PennyLane have lots of nice gifts for that special Valentine. Please check the store to see if we have the perfect gift you your special someone…and don’t forget you kids!

Sarah Fisher

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