St. Valentine's Day. День Святого Валентина.
The 14th of February is a holiday, called St. Valentine's Day. It's the day when boys and girls, sweethearts and lovers, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors will exchange greetings of love or satirical comment. And the quick, modern way to do it is with a Valentine card.
Valentines as we know them first appeared in the 18th century, and were cards with drawings and verses made by the sender. In the 19th century shop-made valentines appeared, and became decorated with lace, real flowers, feathers, and moss.
Valentine-sending has now become less, though it does revive from time to time. The first Valentine of all was a bishop, a Christian martyr, who before he was put to death by the Romans sent a note of friendship to his jailer's blind daughter. Comic valentines are also traditional.
Here is a story about St. Valentine's Day in one family. The story is called "A Valentine's Fiasco: Her Heart was Full — His Stomach Empty".
My Great-Grandma and Grandpa had been married a good many years when she decided that they should exchange Valentine cards as they used to during their courtship. "We shouldn't let the custom die out", she pleaded. However, Great-Grandpa refused to spend any money on "such rubbish".
She didn't require a card from him. She only wanted to surprise him and warm his heart a little. He worked hard. Every day he walked several miles across the fields to work, and he was accompanied by his grown sons, all carrying big sticks in one hand and lunch-baskets in the other.
On that day the old lady got up very early. She took a real fresh rose from the garden and fixed it on the card so that when the card was opened, the living rose was revealed to the beholder's (loving, she hoped) eyes. Then she packed the boys' and papa's lunch-baskets. All day she smiled and sang to herself remembering their first romantic meeting and the few happy days they had before the babies began arriving.
Alas, it all went wrong. When the boys and Great- Grandpa opened their baskets to have their dinner, the boys heard such a yell from their papa, that they were ready to run, remembering their father's heavy hands.
Their father threw out an old card and a rose, not reading the words carefully inscribed with loving hand "Amos — my everything - Nellie". "My grub!" — he roared. "Where's my dinner?" — and in case of apoplexy the boys had reluctantly to hand over some of theirs.
Poor Great - Grandmama. With love in her heart, her mind had been miles away from her work. She had forgotten to do the first thing which all good Victorian wives were supposed to: "First — feed the brute".