The Antiquated Love Message Replaced by a Gift




The Ancient Significance of Valentines — How Appropriate Tokens of Affection Can Be Prepared at Home,  Useful as Well as Ornamental.

The nature of the St. Valentine’s day gift has somewhat changed during the last ten centuries. In early times a valentine was equivalent to a direct proposal of marriage and usually consisted of a yoke or herd of cattle for the wealthy swain and a slaughtered sheep for the impecunious one. Sweethearts in more southerly countries sent gifts of wine, while in the orient donations of perfumes were the correct thing. It was good St. Francis de Sales who did his best to turn these old and so called heathen practices into more edifying paths by inducing his people to inscribe the names of saints instead of the names of mere human girls on their valentines. The saint’s attempt obviously was a flat failure.

In our own day written valentines have long since ceased to be the fashion, and now even the printed valentine is gradually going out of popular favor. But of late there has been an effort toward the rehabilitation of the erstwhile patron saint of lovers, whose anniversary seems to have been more honored in the breach than in the observance.

One very pretty method by which this is being done is by the revival of the St. Valentine party as it was once held in Scotland. At these St Valentine gatherings it was the custom for the hostess to choose for the youth his sweetheart for the coming year. In the Cupid’s lottery the person receiving a young lady as his valentine was under obligation to make a number of gifts to her during the year, and if the suit prospered it was followed by a wedding.

The modern St. Valentine’s day gathering, however, is simply a house party made up of 18 or 20 congenial pairs, care being taken to see that an equal number of both sexes is present. The name of each young lady is written on a slip of paper, which is then folded up tightly.

These slips are placed in a bowl or open basket, shaken up, and each man is permitted to draw one. The name drawn entitles the man to claim its fair owner as his valentine during the evening. When the valentines are thus mated, each girl fastens some favor upon the coat or arm of her pro tem cavalier, a flower or a knot of ribbon, the young man returning the compliment in the form of a pin or some such little ornament. During the evening old fashioned valentine games are indulged in, and it stands to reason many a lasting love match is made.

Each season, too, brings out a number of novel designs in valentines, now that the dear old valentine of lace and perfumery has passed away.

A very dainty little booklet can be made by deft fingers, shaped and decorated in the form of a perfume bottle with a Cupid mounted on a bumblebee. "Scent to you" may be inscribed on the stopper and the bottle of perfume concealed in the folds of the little book. A tobacco pouch is a very acceptable valentine for a gentleman addicted to the use of the weed. It can easily be made from the tops of evening gloves by cutting five pieces of kid into triangles 2 1/2 inches at  the widest part and 5? inches long. Featherstitch an appropriate pattern on the side with silk of a suitable color and overhand them all together with gold cord. Initials should be worked with gold cord on one of the pieces, and the edges turned down and firmly stitched, with a double drawstring of gold cord running through them.

Another valentine far more acceptable and more useful than the now obsolete sachet cushions and pink Cupids and bleeding hearts is a shaving case made of a heart shaped piece of bolting cloth, with a decorative design of a winged fairy, butterflies, love knots or conventional Cupid with bow and arrows. Fifty or sixty sheets of tissue paper should then be fastened together by passing narrow ribbons through both paper and bolting cloth and tying them in bows on the outside.

The ribbon on the left has the names of the months written in gold or sepia, the ribbon on the right having the date and that at he bottom of the heart the day of the week. Some appropriate lettering, such as "Carpe diem" or "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may," should be written in straggling characters on the heart pattern. The calendar should be hung by ribbons fastened to the back at the upper end.

A pretty valentine can be made by an ingenious young man with the simple ingredients of an old tour??n hand scarf, a visiting card and a pat of mucilage?. The unsoiled and unfaded end of the scarf should be cut off, and the card pasted on this bit of silk. The young man should write his rhymed tribute to the young lady’s eyes on the card. The verse of course ought to be original, but if this is impossible an appropriate one can be found on a store valentine and transcribed.
If one wishes to cling to the sentimental in his valentine, a novel gift can be made by hand by preparing a little mock thermometer. This valentine is intended to be outlined in silk on a white ground surrounded with blue forget-me-nots. The delicate line of the mercury should be in bright red, with an equally bright red heart at its base. This  line should be graduated and marked "Freezing," "Sudden thaw," "Two in the shade, " "Close," "Burning" and "Bliss." Where the mercury stands must be decided by the marker of the valentine. A pretty photograph holder can be made harmonious to the season of "valentide," as Spencer calls it, by a design in the shape of a kite with a string attached that is held by three playful Cupids. This should be embroidered in blue and white. In the center of the design a place for a photograph should be roughly edged out and the counterfeit presentment of the beloved one ensconced therein.

If the amateur valentine maker is an artist and skillful with pencil and brush, innumerable little designs as illustrations for verses from Shelley, Herrick, Shakespeare or Browning will readily suggest themselves.

Nothing could be more desirable than to brighten St. Valentine’s day for an invalid. If the invalid have a number of mutual friends, mail to each of them a sheet of heavy cream note paper unfolded, requesting them by a certain date to inscribe on it some verse, poem, text or little sentiment considered appropriate to the occasion. When these are returned, they should be tied together with baby ribbon, passed through slits cut in the back with a sharp penknife, and then inclosed in a pretty handmade cover.

Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio) Feb 9, 1899

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