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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Be Mine! (or maybe don’t)

According to Catholic Online, St. Valentine was a priest martyred in A.D. 269 at Rome for aiding Christian prisoners. “He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, young people” - - a tall order. At an unspecified date, “to abolish the heathens’ lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honor of their goddess Februata Juno on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.” That is apparently the origin of the custom of our kids exchanging valentines with all their little classmates on February 15th. It doesn’t, however, explain the ritual consumption of chocolates and candy, currently at 24 pounds per year per American. Our new and improved interface to Wisconsin Historical Images contains these ghosts of Valentines Past. View at your own risk. That could be you in one of those pictures.
:: Posted in Curiosities on February 14, 2005
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