Tuesday, February 15, 2011

History of Valentine's Day

Since I teach World History and Valentine's Day was on a school day this year, I decided to give a lesson on the history of Valentine's Day! I think my students actually enjoyed it! In true Mrs. Harris fashion, I made them take notes and gave them a daily assignment at the end of the period but overall it was a fun lesson!

There are a number of different legends about the origin of St. Valentine's Day. Enjoy!
  • One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Cladius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men - his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. According to legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl - who may have been his jailor's daughter - who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine" an expression that is still in use today.
  • Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
  • While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -which probably occurred around 270 A.D. - others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "christianize" celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of what called spelt throughout their interiors. ("spring cleaning") Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulous and Remus. Now here's where it gets really interesting...To begin the festival, Roman priests would sacrafice a goat for fertility. The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being hit with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman "lottery" system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.
  • Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum.
  • Thanks to the History Channel for this research! (http://www.history.com/)

Hunter and I celebrated our first married Valentine's Day by going to dinner at Bob's Steak and Chophouse in the Omni Hotel downtown Ft. Worth. It was delicious!! Yummy steak and lobster and an amazing dessert. I came home to this beautiful arrangement of flowers! My Valentine did good! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A new name, a new year, a new hobby!

We ran out of Colonial Country Club, hugged our families and were driven in a vintage 1940s Packard to the Ashton Hotel where we spent our wedding night exhausted and ready to be on the beach already beginning our lives as husband and wife! That's is how the picture above can be continued. And now I have a new last name, its a new year and I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new hobby.

I always enjoyed writing in my diary as a girl. Over the summer I went home to Abilene and found my very first diary still with the heart-shaped lock on it but unfortunately there was no key. I tried a couple ways to pry it open but gave up quickly. I started to think...maybe its best kept locked. I am sure there are trivial and dumb things written in there that would be embarrassing to even visit (like my crush on  Macaulay Culkin when he was in the movie Richie Rich). After the diary phase I fell into a journal phase. I wrote in journals all the time. Most journals were about what boy I had a crush on that week or how I felt about myself that day. Some journals were religious themed. I would do a bible study and write journal passages based on what I felt. One journal in particular was 'N SYNC themed. Oh "The Story." These were all written by hand, on paper. In college, I began writing journal entries in word documents. My old computer is in Abilene and isn't hooked up, but sometimes I think about plugging that old desktop in to retrieve those electronic journals. I am sure they were interesting since they were during my first couple years of college! That was the last time I really wrote. I enjoyed writing to no one; knowing no one else was ever going to read what my true thoughts and feelings were. Then came emails. My first group of girlfriends in college and I would write each other throughout the summer about what was going on while we were away from each other and keeping each other in the loop. I guess that was a form of journal writing.

So here I am now. Blogging. I have to give credit to friends Lauren McMurrey, Erika McWilliams and Taylor Green for inspiring me. I have enjoyed reading their blogs over the months (although I miss Taylor's blog!) I am sure there will be entries where I will be doing the same as I always did...writing to no one and I am okay with that. I would be surprised if Hunter even read half the stuff I will put on here! Since I don't have baby news to blog about like some of my friends, I am hoping to post fun things that Hunter and I are up to and share about trips we've gone on! Since the wedding, we've already done a lot of fun things and visited a number of fun places! For those that care enough to read what I have to say, I thought a blog would be a fun way to keep you up to date on what was going on in the life of Mrs. Adrienne Harris.