Valentine’s Day!

In case you’ve missed it, today is Valentine’s Day! The day when stores look like they’ve exploded with a red and pink bomb, there are jewelry ads every 5 minutes on TV, and local papers and magazines want to interview romance authors. It’s a cheesy, silly, goofy holiday full of chocolate…so of course I love it!!

This Valentine’s Day is also special because Signet is re-launching its Regency line as ebooks, and my very first Regency, Scandal in Venice, is the first title in the series! I am very excited about that (and hope it means new Regencies out there!), and I also love the new cover. To celebrate, I’m running a contest on my website to win a Venetian glass heart pendant on my Amanda site. You also have until tonight to enter a contest on my Laurel site

And since I am feeling contest crazy today, I am having one here at the Riskies! I have two brand-new shinny ARCs of my next Laurel McKee book (One Naughty Night, not out until June!). I will give away one copy to a commenter on today’s post!

Here are a few fun history-geek facts I found out about Valentine’s Day…

–Historians trace the origin of Valentine’s Day to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a holiday on February 14th to honor the goddess Juno (among other things the patron of women and marriage, though maybe Venus might have been a better Valentine’s Day choice!). On the following day, February 15th began the fertility festival called ‘Feast of Lupercalia,’ which often turned into a big, wild party.

An interesting custom of the Feast of Lupercalia was to bring together young men and women who otherwise were strictly separated. On the eve of the festival names of young Roman girls were written on a slip of paper and placed into jars. Each young man drew out a girl’s name from the jar and was paired with the girl for the duration of Lupercalia. Sometime this pairing lasted until the next year’s celebration, and sometimes the couple would fall in love with each other and marry.

–But it was actually due to the Christian priest and martyr St Valentine that today’s holiday got its name. The story goes that during the reign of Emperor Claudius, Rome was involved in several bloody and unpopular wars. Recruting new soliers was hard because a lot of men didn’t want to leave their wives and families to take part in such hopeless campaigning, so Claudius canceled all engagements in Rome. Saint Valentine defied Claudius’s orders. and performed secret marriages. When his defiance was discovered, Valentine was brutally beaten and put to death on February 14, about 270 AD and later became a saint.

Around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day to honor the martyr Valentinus and to end the pagan celebration. By the Middle Ages, Valentine became a heroic and romantic figure in England and France, perfect for the cult of chivalry. Valentine’s Day Cards are even said to have originated in medieval France. Charles, Duke of Orleans is said to have written the first Valentine’s Day card. He was captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and wrote a poem or โ€˜Valentine’ to his wife while locked in the Tower of London. This letter is still in the collection of the British Library in London, England.

–There was a popular belief in Great Britain and France during 14th and 15th century that birds begin to mate on February 14, halfway through the month of February. In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (spelling modernize), addressing the favored suitor:

And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.

–Unmarried girls in Britain and Italy used to wake up before sunrise on Valentine’s Day. They believed that the first man they glimpsed on Valentine’s Day (or someone who looked like him!) would marry them within a year. Girls would wake up early to stand by their window and wait for the right man to pass by. Shakespeare mentions this tradition in Hamlet (1603). Ophelia sings:
Good morrow! ‘Tis St. Valentine’s Day
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your valentine!

What are your plans for the holiday?? What are some of your favorite romantic reads for the day?

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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10 years ago

One naughty night sounds like good inspiration for valentines day!

Sunnygirlt at gmail com

10 years ago

It is the one time a year my DH will happily (so I like to believe) go watch a chick flick; so I am off to the movies to see, The Vow.

10 years ago

We are having a romantic dinner at home and watching a movie.

10 years ago

What a beautiful cover. Can’t wait to read

10 years ago

I ahve no plans, no significant other- as usual. I would love One Naughty Night both to read and in real life.

10 years ago

No plans with Hubs tonight. I’ll fix him his favorite meal for dinner: breakfast!

Don’t forget the cheesy pajama gram commercials. Those are the worst.

Lisa Wolff
10 years ago

No big plans here, we are both working and hubby works at night so blah ๐Ÿ™‚ We got our kids a little something so seeing them excited will be good!
Love the cover for One Naught Night and looking forward to its release~

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

LOL Kat–definitely take advantage of chick flick night while you can ๐Ÿ™‚

Diane D - Florida
10 years ago

My husband works away all week, so I’m all on my own for Valentine’s Day. Oh well, I’ll just try and finish “A Lady Never Surrenders” by Sabrina Jeffries.

I’d dearly love to read “One Naughty night”. It’s the only action that I’m going to get. lol

Thank you for this opportunity.

dpd333 (at) aol dot com

Janet Mullany
10 years ago

My Valentine’s Day started shortly after midnight when my husband presented me with a box of chocolates. I ate half of them and retired to bed. I’m wondering whether there will be any left when I get home!

Ebony Morton
Ebony Morton
10 years ago

I have no big plans today. to start reading my next romance novel . ๐Ÿ™‚ i dont have a sweet heart this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

10 years ago

My husband is working tonight, but one of his favorite pies is waiting in the fridge when he gets home.

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Janet, you should have hidden them somewhere ๐Ÿ™‚

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

My husband and I don’t go lavish on Valentines Day. I got him cashews and a card; he sent me an eCard, which sounds dumb, but he did great! (plus he’s sick-battling a virus)

Whenever the Lady and the Tramp commercials come on TV, I tell him I never got to see the movie when I was a kid. So the ecard my husband sent was Lady and the Tramp eating the spaghetti dinner…”This is the night, the beautiful night…”

Pretty good!

Betty Hamilton
10 years ago

I love the cover and am looking forward to reading the book!!

Cathy P
Cathy P
10 years ago

My husband has been ill, so we stayed home and I made a nice dinner for us. We gave each other several kisses and said Happy Valentine’s Day several times. We will celebrate later in the week when he is feeling better by going out to dinner. As far as a book goes, I read a Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris today.

Elena Greene
10 years ago

My husband and I decided a while ago that crowded restaurants weren’t our thing; we do romantic outings at other times than Valentine’s Day. Instead we do our usual silly family custom that began when the girls were small, but they still enjoy. We share an all-pink meal (ham, beet salad, cheesecake with strawberries). ๐Ÿ™‚

10 years ago

Like Elena Greene, we rarely go out for Valentine’s Day. It is not enjoyable to fight the crowds. We were in the military and learned to celebrate occasions as we could. The 14th is just a day. We can celebrate Valentine’s Day whenever we want.
This year, my husband fixed steak and lobster tails here at home. I added wine, baked potatoes, and a tossed salad and we had a lovely dinner. Most enjoyable.
My favorite read this year was BE MY TEXAS VALENTINE. It was an enjoyable anthology.