By Kathy Antoniotti
Knight Ridder Newspapers
No one really knows the origin of Valentine's Day.
Some believe it started during an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. Many legends persist from the days of the early Christian church that had at least two saints named Valentine. Or, it could be something as simple as the nesting habits of birds. In some of the earliest English language texts, it was noted that birds choose their mates on that day.
Whatever its history, Valentine's Day customs have changed dramatically through the years.
In the 1700s an English woman hoped to learn the identity of her future husband by writing men's names on scraps of paper, wrapping them in clay and dropping them into water. She hoped the first one that rose to the surface had the name of her one true love.
It was customary during that same time for a man to draw a young woman's name from a jar and wear the name on his clothing. The expression "wearing his heart on his sleeve" probably came from this custom.
Eventually, it became popular for people to exchange cards containing romantic messages. In the 1800s, commercially produced valentines were hand painted. The front of the card could be decorated with lace, ribbons or even sea shells. Many of the early cards were left blank for people to write their own messages. Less imaginative folks could buy cards with pre-written sentiments included.
Not all valentines held sentimental verses inside, though. From the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, people could purchase valentines called "penny dreadfuls" that had insulting messages. The popular valentine was aptly named, for each mean-spirited card cost a penny.
There is no mistaking the message you send on Feb. 14 with this candy-laden heart. I found directions for this craft in "Very Fun, Slightly Sticky Stuff To Do With Candy" written by Barbara Kane for Klutz. The book contains projects, recipes and games, plus molds, utensils and candy decorations kids need to make crafts with candy.
Supplies you will need:
- 1 small Styrofoam heart.
- At least two different kinds of candy with twisted wrappers.
- Short bobby pins.
- A penny.
- Ribbon for a bow.
Slip a bobby pin through one end of each wrapper.
Push the pin into the heart using the flat side of a penny to help.
Add enough candy to cover the sides and front of the heart.
Tie the ribbon into a bow. Use another piece of ribbon to attach the bow to the heart and tie the ends to form a loop for a hanger.
© 2003, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.