By TYLER MASK
The month of romance is well underway, and its climax, Feb. 14, better known as Valentine’s Day, is closing in quickly.
Many have heard the name St. Valentine before and attribute Valentine’s Day to him; however, the history behind the holiday and who he was is complicated. According to History, which many know through its History channel, among multiple legends behind the day’s founding, there are at least three historic martyrs, who contend for the title of the true St. Valentine.
One legend claims that Valentine was a third century priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius, believing that unmarried men were better fit to serve in the military, outlawed marriage for young, able-bodied men. Valentine felt that the decree was unjust, and continued to perform marriages for these men in secret. When Claudius discovered what Valentine was doing, he put Valentine to death.
Other accounts posit that Valentine was martyred for helping Christians escape cruel Roman prisons. One legend born out of this account claims that Valentine, while imprisoned himself, sent the first “Valentine” greeting after falling in love with the jailor’s daughter. Before being martyred, legend has it that he wrote her a letter signed, “From your Valentine,” which explains why so many cards include this very phrase today.
To make things more complicated, there is also an ancient pagan festival that claims to be the roots of Valentine’s Day. Although many believe Valentine’s Day is a commemoration of a Christian Saint’s death, others believe that the Christian church placed St. Valentine’s feast on Feb. 15 to Christianize the celebration of Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival in honor of Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.
Lupercalia survived for some time, but it was eventually outlawed during Pope Gelasius’ time when he deemed Feb. 14 St. Valentine’s Day.
Nevertheless, for one reason or another, Valentine’s Day eventually became associated with love.
Although very different from our modern Valentine’s Day cards and practices, the holiday has been popular since the Middle Ages.
In today’s time, some of the most iconic Valentine’s happenings include a romantic dinner for two, cards from known loved ones or secret admirers and flowers.
In fact, flowers are such a big deal during the month of romance that local business owners start preparing for Valentine’s Day months in advance.
“There is a lot of prep work that goes into it,” Cole’s House of Flowers owner Dwaine Eaton said. “I start working on it in December. It’s our biggest one day a year.”
From Eaton’s shop alone, he said he goes through around 4,000 roses just for the holiday of love.
The total amount of work coming from flower shops is huge.
“We do in one week what we normally do in three or four weeks,” Penny’s Flower Shop owner Penny Wells said. “It’s the biggest holiday that we have.
“And it’s fast, cause you’ve only got Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to get [flowers] delivered. Some want [them] early. We always do the day after also because some people just can’t call [or] they can’t get through to the phone.”
Beyond this, both owners said overtime and extra workers are drawn into the mix during the Valentine season.
But things don’t stop there. Among all the flower hustle-and-bustle, Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce has a list of activities leading up to the big day, some of which include:
• Feb. 13, Zonta Bowls of Love is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the Mineral Wells Women’s Club. This come and go event gives attendees a chance to bid on beautiful bowls and eat wonderful homemade soup. All proceeds will go to Backpack Buddies.
• Feb. 13, Father Daughter Dance will take place at Clark Gardens Botanical Park from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchase from Cole’s House of Flowers. Corsages are also available at Cole’s for $10 and can be picked up at the door at the dance.
• Feb. 14, Holiday Hills County Club is hosting a Valentine’s Day Dinner featuring a special four-course meal that will be served from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pricing for members is $80 and $100 for non-members.
• Feb. 14, Shotgun’s BBQ Restaurant is offering a Valentine’s three-course dinner complete with table decorations.
For more information of Valentine’s Day, consult www.history.com. To learn more about holiday happenings in Mineral Wells, contact the MWCC at 940-325-2557. Lastly, don’t forget to get your sweetheart some flowers.