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Some Valentine’s Day Facts


There were several Saints named Valentine. A Roman priest who was martyred and a bishop of Terni, to name two. The bishop of Terni’s day is February 14th from whom we got the date. The custom we follow today of choosing a Valentine is only mildly related to the saints of the same name. It is however a leftover of the Roman Lupercalia (observed in Roman times on February 15th) the time of the year when birds seek a mate. Called Lupercal (Latin lupus) because Lupercus, the Lycaean PAN, protected the flocks from the wolves. As often will happen, Shakespeare gets the last word. When writing about Lupercalia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he wrote:

Good morrow, friends. Saint Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?

Source: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, 15th edition rose


The rose has become a universal symbol of love, depicted by painters, dancers, poets, musicians and in theater. Shakespeare wrote about the rose: "Of all the flowers, methinks a rose is best." The rose was the symbol used in the English Wars of the Roses; The white rose for the House of York and the red rose for the House of Lancaster. Interestingly, when the two families finally stopped fighting and came together, the symbol of their peace-making was a new rose, blending white and red, the Tutor rose which became the symbol of England.

Roses have been recycled for centuries into other products: oils for bathing and eating, potpourri, tasty rose delicacies, soap, the substance for jewelry and dried roses to name a few. Try the following for a Valentine’s Day beginning. Serve with heart-shaped baking powder (or quick Bisquick) biscuits:

Rose Butter

Warning: Eat only those roses that have not been treated with any sprays or pesticides. The base of the petal has a bitter taste, snip it off of each petal. Some stores sell dried rose petals for cooking.

  1. Select aromatic rose petals (which you will no doubt have to purchase in the month of February unless you’ve had the foresight to freeze some from last summer). Snip the white part off the bottom, rinse and lay out on a paper towel.
  2. Soften two sticks of sweet cream butter.
  3. Layer petals on the bottom of a sealable container. Cover with softened butter. Repeat layers. Store in the refrigerator for several days.
  4. Bring container to room temperature. When soft, blend and transfer to a dish.