With or Without a Lover, This Valentine’s Day Is Yours!

Those without a loved one to share Valentine’s Day have more in common with the tradition of sending Valentine’s Day cards than those with a lover.

victorian-valentine-cupid

I thought the Victorians began the tradition with their sentimental, flowery, lacy, and cupid adorned cards:

The couple meets at a soiree where the fine lady’s heart beats like a caged canary. The gentleman wears gloves and even with them worries he’ll leave a thumbprint on the greeting card. He escorts her to a small chamber not far from the ballroom. Her cheeks flush with the touch of his warm hand on her back. It sends a thrill of which she is not accustomed. He pulls the declaration of love from his breast pocket and presents it with a bow. She smiles, rips it open and gasps when she sees two naked cupids complete with jiggly bits dancing in the sky. Underneath are the words “Be My Lover.” She drops the card and trounces from the room.

And that is when the gentleman became acquainted with the florist’s establishment around the corner which he frequented in years to come.

Cupids and heart Valentine

Sending cards began more than 400 years earlier with a French romantic poet, of course! It did not begin with the uptight Victorians, but the English had their part in history.

The French nobleman, Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orleans fought against the English and became trapped in his own armor. (How does that happen? “Help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!) In 1415, he took up residence as a prisoner in the Tower of London.

The Tower of London

That is where he wrote the very first Valentine poem to his wife, Bonne of Berry, whom he missed dearly. They were married the year Charles was imprisoned when she was the ripe age of eleven.

Go Forth My Heart

Go forth, my hert, with my lady;
Loke that we spare no business
To serve her with such lowliness,
That ye get her grace and mercy.

Pray her of times prively
That she keep trewly her promise
Go forth &c.

I must as a hertless body
Abide alone in hevyness,
And ye shal do wel with your maistress
In plesans glad and mery.                    (pleasure)
Go forth &c.

© Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orleans. 

 

I’m not sure the Duchess had much time for pleasure, gladness or merriment since she died 5 years later at age 16. She left the Duke childless.

Oldest-Valentine

The first Valentine is included in this letter to the Duke’s wife in 1415. The over-adorned cards came later.  Photo credit BBC.

Not to be outdone by his romantic prisoner, King Henry V had a poet, John Lydgate, write a Valentine poem for his wife, Queen Catherine de Valois. Henry only lived a few more years and then Catherine married a Tudor. They kept poor Charles locked up. Such was life in the Middle Ages.

After 25 years as a prisoner of war, Charles was freed. That same year, he married Maria of Cleves who was thirty-five years his junior.

Is this where the most overused verb in romance novels, “cleave” originated? I can imagine there was a lot of cleaving going on in the Duke’s bedroom after being imprisoned for such a long time.

The freed Duke and fourteen-year-old Maria waited seventeen years to become proud parents. They had two daughters and their son became King Louis the XII of France. The Duke died in 1465 and Maria secretly married a much younger man fifteen years later. Good for her!

Here’s another fun fact. The Duke of Orleans’ mother was named Valentina and was also a poet. Many claim, she died of a broken heart at age 40 after her husband was killed by a cousin. Her son was the first to send a Valentine card.

Was that ironic, poetic justice, or poetic irony?

I’m sure she had no idea her son would become such a trendsetter. According to History. com, around 150 million Valentine’s Day cards will be sent this year. That may have cheered her up.

220px-Fleury-François_Richard_-_Valentine_of_Milan_Mourning_her_Husband,_the_Duke_of_Orléans

Valentina mourning the death of her husband – By Fracois Fleury Richard – Wikimedia

So if you are alone this Valentine’s day, buy yourself a box of chocolates and a romance novel. Every time you see the word “cleave” eat a delicious bon-bon and think about the man who sent the first Valentine card who was without a lover for 25 years! Maybe you should buy two boxes…

800px-Aladdin_chokladask_pralinerPhoto credit – Wikimedia

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How will you celebrate the day?

Related articles:

History.com – Valentine’s Day

The Daily Post

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85 Comments

Filed under Humor, Life

85 responses to “With or Without a Lover, This Valentine’s Day Is Yours!

  1. Pingback: Humans Are So Different on Valentine’s Day [HUMOUROUS LETTER] | Ramisa the Authoress

  2. Your dedication to your c raft – and your fans – is admirable, Susie.

    Like

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  7. Hanging with my greatest someone – love him and give him a sweet thought every day:) Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Like

  8. Another wild post, Susie! I loved the Victorian flash fiction and laughed out loud at the falling over and getting trapped in armour visual … seriously slapstick! Bonne Saint Valentin! <3

    Like

    • It cracked me up when I read about the poor Duke!
      I have been dabbling with flash fiction again and haven’t posted any for a while. I don’t spend much time on them. They either work or they don’t!
      Thanks so much Pat and Bonne Saint Valentin to you too!

      Like

  9. Feeling better already. Entertaining article – well done.

    Like

  10. We aren’t really big on the whole Valentine’s day thing..but I loved the article..

    Like

  11. Pingback: The 14th of February 1951 – Blacksburg, Virginia | Forgotten Correspondance

  12. Absolutely fascinating Susie

    Like

  13. What a great story. Thanks for doing all the research and sharing it with us foolish love birds. I will vow to be VERTICAL on that day eating lots of chocolate dipped strawberries that my husband will feed to me (he doesn’t know this yet) :)

    Like

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  15. This history is fascinating, and I love the way you add your humor to it. Did you write the Victorian piece? Love the bit about the cherubs! :)

    Like

  16. Pingback: “Be Mine” writing-challenge-valentine #poetry #valentine’sday | Moondustwriter's Blog

  17. This weekend just gone, I missed a chance to see real knights in armour – the local medieval society had a re-enactment planned. They’re the real deal – I believe Peter Jackson uses them for his movies. Alas, it rained.,, I think they staged the jousting etc anyway but my wife and I decided tramping around a fake battlefield in the rain wasn’t quite our thing… Possibly one or more of them got trapped in their own armour, a la the Duc, but these days I guess they have wrenches and such like to unbolt the stuff. :-)

    Like

    • Too bad! That would have been fun. I went to a Renaissance Festival a while back and it was a blast! No rain, but lots of dust and dirt.
      I think I would get claustrophobic in all that metal. :)

      Like

  18. The Regular Guy NYC

    Looks like we get a bit of a history lesson today with our flowers, cards, and chocolates. Now it’s really a Hallmark holiday more like the St Valentines Day Massacre!

    Like

  19. It’s all a bunch of hogwash I tell you. The first Valentine’s card was created by a lady and her name was Hallmark. She was in cahoots with another lady named See and a guy named Hersey. Together they got rich in February. The end.

    Stuck in his own suit of armor? Wonder how often that happened?

    Good stuff, Susie.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • Thanks Patricia! I laughed so hard when I read that the poor Duke became trapped. Poor guy.
      I think you just figured it out. Yep. They’ve been in cahoots for years!!!
      Happy Valentine’s Day!

      Like

  20. Reblogged this on Gogwit's Blog and commented:
    Thanks for this. I’d always been under the impression that the Valentine’s Day card was the opportunity to declare, anonymously, the undying love and affection which would be the stuff of scandal, of tongues set wagging, were it declared on any other day of the year.
    Am I sending such a message this year?
    Why – blush – that would be telling!

    Like

  21. This is going to be a sad Valentines Day for me.
    But maybe next year..:)

    Like

  22. sunshinebright

    This will be my second Valentine’s Day alone. However, I’m not going to stuff my face with chocolate (dark, if you please) and make my loss of 10 pounds a distant memory. Susie, love your treatise of the holiday, and thanks for all that historical stuff! Always wanted to know. :-)

    Like

  23. Valentine’s day doesn’t get much attention in my house. We decided long ago that paying 2-3 times as much for things that are usually a lot less expensive just because it has been declared a day that we should do that is ridiculous. We should treat each other every day the way we are expected to on Valentine’s day. With love and respect.
    As for those chocolates, I will wait until the next day when they are all half price. ;-)

    Like

  24. I always thought that Valentine’s Day was pagan in origin, what with the naked cherubs and arrows and stuff. It bugged me that the same parents who wouldn’t let their kids celebrate Halloween because of its dark side, would be the ones sending their kids to school with sacks full of cards and candies on Valentine’s Day…or maybe it was just my bitterness about how few cards I typically got.

    Like

  25. My man seems to think that jiggling the jiggly bits in front of my face is romantic, too. What’s up with that? I’m going to have a party, too, one with finger food only. This will certainly end up funny rather than romantic. I hope you get lots of chocolate.

    Like

  26. Good compilation of the Valentine trail, Susie. You and your friends – single, hitched, experimenting, searching – are all invited to share in some big like at the Cougar Den this Friday. I have it on good authority that you like a party. No strings attached!!

    Like

  27. Thanks for the research. Most of my perspective of
    valentine’s Day is the same as Charlie Brown’s.

    Like

  28. I always thought that the guy who became St. Valentine had something to do with this, but I’m at The Grind and too lazy to check this out on Wikipedia, Susie. As for being “in-between” partners, I’m okay with it. I see Valentine’s Day as such a money pit. This year, I’ve invested those funds in the direction of new glasses. They’ll hopefully help me get a clearer view of who my next chocolate inhaling Valentine might be.

    Like

  29. You are so right. With a partner or even alone or with friends, Valentine’s Day is a time to enjoy.

    Like

    • Here, here! We have to love ourselves first! So bring on the chocolate whether we have a significant other in our lives or not. I have a box down in the kitchen and it’s almost time for a break…..

      Like

  30. When the zombie apocalypse comes, Valentines Day will be celebrated by eating the heart!

    Yeah…that was probably better left unsaid.
    Oops… ;)

    Like

  31. Interesting post Susie. There’s something about St Valentine running around in my the murk of my head. :D
    When you speak of cleave, it reminds not to use it in my poetry. Thanks.
    Lastly a Feb 14th hug (if you accept them from weirdo’s like me.)

    Be Well.

    Like

    • Of course! I accept all hugs especially one from you!
      I think St. Valentine is lurking in many heads this week.
      Thanks so much Linton!
      PS – use the word “cleave” as often as you want!

      Like

  32. How interesting! I guess the ones locked up have nothing but pen a paper to conjure up niceties. Great post!

    Like

  33. Gosh it’s that time of the year already. Thank you for the history lesson ;) We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in our little bubble… but wish everybody who does a blessed day :)

    Like

  34. Wow. A lot of imprisonment, killing, and cleaving in the history of Valentine’s Day. My Valentine’s Day will be spend trying to avoid all of those things.

    Like

  35. What a fascinating post! We went to a trivia competition on Friday night and Valentine’s was one of the categories. I could have used this info then to avoid an inglorious 5th place finish.

    I’m taking your advice about the chocolates, which means I will be cleaving to my stretch pants this Valentine’s Day.

    Like

    • I couldn’t believe the story about the Duke. There is so much irony in history. The fact that he fell over in his armor and became trapped was hysterical. Congrats on your 5th place! Unless of course there were only 5 competing…. :)
      I would love to know how many times the word “cleave” is mentioned in those classic romance novels with Fabio on the cover. Cleave on my friend!

      Like

      • There were 12 tables so we weren’t total failures. We got the question right about “where was the first sender when he penned the first valentine”, but missed the # sent each year.

        “Cleave” and “heaving bosoms” are both very popular in those books. Or so I’m told.

        Like

        • But of course! “Heaving bosoms”!!! Sounds like a great party!

          Like

          • It was, except another category was “books”. One question went something like, “Name the 3 (3 of the?) books in the smutty, online books series.” All we could think of was “Shades of Grey” and we didn’t even know enough to put “50” at the front of the title. The feeling of smug superiority that none of us had actually read that drivel was little comfort for getting 0 points for the question.

            Like

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