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I’ve always wanted to try needle felting, so for Christmas, we bought the girls a Valentine themed needle felting kit from Nova Natural.  We had great fun.  I’m definitely getting some more of the kits and individual supplies.  It is a good activity we can do and learn together.  Even Daddy got in on the fun a little. 🙂

Deladis working on a cover for her Valentine box.  Single needle felting.

Deladis working on a cover for her Valentine box. Single needle felting.

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A piece I made for a friend's birthday.

A piece I made for a friend’s birthday.

I’m excited to do more.

 

I’m excited to be back and writing here.  I don’t know how often I will get to post, and I am thinking about putting this page on my own domain so I can host certain things along with the blog.  I don’t have any money to hire anyone to help me and figuring it out for myself is a bit intimidating, but maybe soon I’ll tackle it.  In the meantime, I’m here.  I hope to get back to reading more of your blogs too as I can.  Work has been keeping me busy, and some writing projects too.  I’m also looking into a new educational philosophy (Charlotte Mason), which is taking up much of my reading time, as well as reading the Bible in a year with Life Walk.  Anyway, I won’t update too much.  I’m just going to jump right in, right like I left off. 🙂  I hope to hear from you. 

I’ve never been much on Valentine’s Day.  It always seemed like such a cheesy holiday to me, and I was never the “lucky” girl who received gifts from a secret admirer or even her own husband or boyfriend.  John did buy me a mug once with a little stuffed Dalmatian holding some fabric roses.  The handle of the cup said “BOSS”, which he hadn’t noticed when he bought it, and was cracked.  I still have the cup put away in my cedar chest for safe keeping.  I also received flowers delivered to school from both my grandmother and my dad, but that stopped when I was in high school.  There were always feelings of the holiday being too forced for me.  It didn’t seem fun for the people around me, and deep down I knew/know that getting a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day does not equal true love always.  I haven’t ever truly celebrated the holiday, and have never shared it with my girls.

This year, that all changed.  Our homeschool association throws a Valentine party each year.  It is like the traditional one we probably all experienced in school.  Everyone makes a box in which to receive valentine cards from each of their classmates.  There are plenty of goodies to eat, games to play, and visiting with one another.  Last year, we kind of coped out.  I brought a red gift bag to use for the girls’ boxes and the construction paper hearts we cut out for valentine cards was not fun for neither me nor Deladis.  I was thinking of getting to the party only, visiting with other mothers and letting my girls have some social time with other kids.

However, when we got the party, I saw the decorations and the boxes the other children had made.  They do have a little contest for “best box”, but I didn’t feel we’d participate last year.  What struck me though about the boxes of those who were participating in that way was the obvious time put into the creative process of making those boxes.  I knew it had been a family project and the time spent creating something nice was a love offering from mother to children and from children to their friends.  Love offering – is that the real meaning of St. Valentine’s Day?

This year I dedcided to learn for myself and alongside my girls what the real purpose of our love holiday is, and maybe find some magic there to make it a more joyful time for our family.  We went to the library and checked out two older books on the history of the holiday and the symbols used.  St. Valentine’s Day by Clyde Robert Bulla which is a wonderfully written book for all ages about the history behind the holiday.  Then, giving us some ideas of how we’d celebrate the holiday we borrowed Hearts, Cupids, and Red Roses: The Story of the Valentine Symbols by Edna Barth.  The full text is on Google books at the link there.  It is great too.

From the Barth book we decided to make puzzle purses for our valentine cards and put within them a traditional holiday poem we found in the book.

Sure as the grape grows on the vine

So sure you are my valentine

The rose is red the violet blue

Lilies are fair and so are you.

But, before even settling on this we created a real valentine box.  I wanted it to be a project that Deladis could take ownership of, so we made nothing extravagant.  We did spend about 4 hours on it though.  A whole Saturday.

The design was Deladis’s creation.  Painting, gluing, and cutting were done mostly by the girls.  The idea for paper lace came from the Barth book, which I decided to make using the heart shapes.  The images you see decorating the box were illustrations from the Barth book by Ursula Arndt.  They are gorgeous, old-school illustrations that Deladis enjoyed so much.

I’m looking forward to sharing our valentines, box, and our treats with our homeschool friends.  It will be a fun time I know, especially for Deladis and Ivy.  Deladis is so proud of the box, and she hasn’t stopped making valentines.  Another thing the homeschool association is doing is having the children create valentines to take to the nursing home as a service project, which we did as well.  Deladis put her best effort into those. 

Yet, what I am looking forward to the most is sharing with others what I have learned about St. Valentine’s Day.  How there is a bit more to it than couples, cupids, and love songs.  I typed up a one page history to share with the families at the party.  This approach has helped me to enjoy St. Valentine’s Day this year, and I have had a good time making it something for my girls to enjoy.

Our Valentine’s Day comes from a Roman Catholic Feast Day for the many Christian martyrs by the name of Saint Valentine in early church records.  The feast day for all St. Valentines was February 14th.  There are many legends as to who the St. Valentine was.  But, we believe he lived in the third century after Christ and was martyred for defying the Roman Emperor Claudius II by performing marriage ceremonies when the Emperor had outlawed marriage in order to keep and recruit young men as soldiers.  Another popular legend is that St. Valentine helped Christians who were persecuted by Claudius II even winning a jailer and his family to Christ.  Regardless of which legend is truth, Valentine was beheaded on February 14th.  The story goes an almond tree which grew near his grave burst into pink bloom as a symbol of lasting love.

As Rome adopted the Christian faith, the Roman Catholic Church sought to replace some lasting pagan festivals with those which they saw as Christian.  An important Roman Festival, Lupercalia, was celebrated near February 14th.  It is believed that Valentine’s execution was carried out as part of the ceremony of this festival. 

At that time February came later in the year than it does now, and Lupercalia was a spring festival.  The festival is so ancient that no one is sure of its origins – not even the historians in the last century before Christ was sure.  It was a very important festival however, and recordings of its celebration are lasting.  Animal sacrifices took place, fertility rites, and purification ceremony.  Lupercalia was probably established to ensure good crops and to protect flocks from wolves.  It honored the god Faunus who was similar to the Greek Pan. 

Roman young people would draw names and become couples for the year at this festival.  When the Catholic Church replaced this holiday with the feast day of St. Valentine, the emphasis on “love” and fertility never quite left it.  And those sorts of celebrations attached themselves to the saint’s name.

Eventually the name drawing and extravagant gift giving turned into giving valentine letters, simple treats, and cards to friends and sweethearts sometime in the 18th century.  This was only after the Puritans banned the holiday for quite some time during the 17th century.

adapted from Edna Barth’s Hearts, Cupids, and Red Roses

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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