Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope everyone is in a Valentine's Day frame of mind.  It can be brutal for those in the lonely hearts club. I've been all over the spectrum of loving or hating Valentine's Day through the years. I've loved it when I've had someone with whom to share the sentiment of the day and hated it when I didn't. I've been occasionally annoyed by the obligation of sending cards or flowers but always delighted to receive them.Growing up, I could always count on a sweet treat from my Mom and maybe something new and red to wear. That's what my kids have come to know - that and a heart-shaped pan of Pilsbury cinnamon rolls with pink icing, a pink chocolate rose for Kathryn, and Swedish Fish or Twizzlers for Henry.

I was going to write about the history of Valentine's Day, but NPR does a perfectly good job of it in this story.  No need to reinvent the wheel:

The Dark Origins of Valentine's Day

Well OK, I can't resist embellishing with a little additional info. that I came across in my internet sleuthing. The day as we know it probably has it's origins in the medieval tradition of courtly love. Chaucer is the first person known to mention a "Valentine's Day" in his poem, The Parliament of Fowls, written somewhere around 1382 give or take a few years. 

The first actual Valentine known to us was written by a French Duke - Charles, Duke of Orleans - from his river-view room in the Tower of London. He was confined there after being captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. During his relatively comfortable 25-year long captivity in England, he became something of an accomplished poet, and this note to his wife can still be seen on display in the British Museum:

“Je suis desja d'amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…”
(Charles d'Orléans, Rondeau VI, lines 1–2:)

The old French roughly translates to

“I am already sick/bored of love
My very gentle Valentine…”

An illumination of Charles, Duke of Orleans
imprisoned in the Tower of London

Wishing everyone a heartfelt Valentine to start the week.  I've included an incredibly random playlist below of Valentunes from my iTunes library.  I have a truly bizarre mix of songs as a result of my kids and I sharing a library.  There is no rhyme, reason or order to the song selection.  The songs might be a little slow to load, so be patient.  Enjoy!

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