"FROM YOUR VALENTINE"
Three separate priests named Valentine vie for credit for having coined the phrase, “From Your Valentine,” each of them imprisoned and subsequently executed by the then Roman Emperor Claudius II for defying laws that aided and abetted Christians. Valentine and his jailer’s blind daughter populate the most romantic of the three legends. A young girl sympathetic to Valentine’s cause, she visited him regularly in his jail cell, where Valentine performed healing miracles upon her, thus his elevation by the Catholic Church to sainthood. Love also blossomed between the two, and prior to Valentine’s long walk to the beheader’s blade, he penned a letter to his beloved, signing it “From Your Valentine.”
There are also competing forces laying claim for the establishment of February 14th as the holiday’s date. It is possibly linked to a pagan fertility festival that encouraged mating among young maidens and their suitors; or the date memorializes the death of St. Valentine. Because birds and bees also get lovey-dovey at that time of year, it is a strong contender, as well. Regardless, it has been a date associated with romance from its inception, however bittersweet it might have been in its beginnings.
Although verbal valentine greetings survived the fall of the Roman Empire and persisted through the middle ages, Valentine’s letter to his jailer’s daughter remained without imitation for centuries. The oldest known scripted valentine in existence is a poem composed as the Renaissance glimmered on the horizon. Charles, Duke of Orleans, authored it to his wife while he was a prisoner in the Tower Of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, a major victory for the British over the French in the Hundred Years’ War. The Duke’s conqueror, England’s King Henry V, followed suit several years later, hiring a ghost-writer to compose a valentine to the king’s future wife and consort Catherine of Valois. Thereafter, small tokens of affection, written notes, and hand-made cards were popular in Europe and even in the New World. Ready-made, mass-produced cards took hold at around 1900 with improved printing technology. Sixty years before, however, Worcester, Massachusetts resident Esther A. Howland created the first commercially-produced Valentine’s Day Cards, elevating them to an artform with lace, rice paper, ribbon, and romantic images. They, as well as almost any Victorian-era card, as well as some of today’s motifs, are popular and valuable collectibles. Contact the National Valentine Collectors Association or ValentineCollectors.com for further information.
LIFE AND DEATH AT LTOB
There is a real gem in Grove City, The Little Theatre Off Broadway. LTOB found a home in what was once a movie theater in downtown Grove City. The building will be 103 years old this year. This is LTOB's 59th season and seems to get better season after season! For a small theater, LTOB puts on wonderful productions with amazing sets. The actors and actresses, along with the directors, and production staff do an amazing job in both musicals and dramas.
The most recent production is "Death Takes a Holiday". This is a dark, macabre comedy. The actors and actresses bring the idea of death to life. Grove City Arts Council's own Tammy McClellan plays Princess Marie. Tammy shows another of her artistic talents and gave a very strong, emotional performance. The set is lovely, and the costumes are stunning.
"Death Takes a Holiday" is very thought-provoking and gives the audience a view into Death as a being, rather than the mysterious and sometimes frightening thing that it can be. There is a twist in the story as Death figures out what life is about.
For an evening out with great entertainment, visit LTOB to see the latest production, "Death Takes a Holiday". Visit their website, www.LTOB.org, or call 614-875-3919. This play runs through January 28.