Just who is St. Valentine, anyway? The cynic in me suspects that he’s the patron saint of heart-shaped candy, cupid decorations and dinner reservations. But, I can’t give that answer to a customer…
Here at the Calgary Public Library, we answer all sorts of questions. Recently, a question arrived through our Ask A Question service, and it was “Who is Saint Valentine?” Here’s how we’ll look for the answer:
First, we’ll look through our catalogue. We’ll search for books on St. Valentine, as well as holidays and saints.
Then, we may turn to our e-library and browse our databases. One of my favourites is World Folklore and Folklife Today.
We may then use our encyclopedias - both print and electronic. We’ll use these to find succinct overviews from reputable, authoritative sources.
We may even use our list of best websites, to see what information is freely available online.
So…here’s the scoop on St. Valentine’s Day:
Its origins are murky, as there were several people by the name of Valentine, in early Christianity. The holiday may even be related to a Roman feast of fertility, which would have pre-dated Christianity. Handmade Valentine’s cards have been exchanged since the 17th century (well before the advent of Hallmark!), but it’s not certain whether these commemorated a saint’s bravery, or the love of a prisoner for a jailor’s daughter, or a priest’s stand against a Roman emperor. All of these stories are related to Valentine’s Day.
No matter who St. Valentine may have been, why not take the opportunity to celebrate February 14th by making cards for your friends or loved ones? Our poetry and craft books may be just the inspiration you need!
Until next time, this blogger can be found eating large quantities of heart-shaped chocolates…
Happy Valentine's Day!