Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love is Life

"Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love."

~ Tolstoy

Can you feel it? The Love!? I know I sure do and hopefully you do too :)

Every February 14, across the country, husbands are scrambling to stores in order to pick up chocolates in heart shaped boxes to give to their wives, mothers are baking and decorating treats with their children, cynics are wearing black and popping every heart shaped balloon in sight, children are running around their classrooms in sugar highs handing out valentines to their classmates,  boyfriends stealing kisses from their girlfriends while out on romantic, candlelit dinners... All in the name of Valentine's Day... 

But what is Valentine's Day? Who is this Saint Valentine and why do we celebrate this holiday in the ways that we do? The history of Valentine's Day (and its patron saint) is shrouded in mystery. We do know however that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains both Christian and ancient Roman traditions.

One legend states that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men (his would-be soldiers). Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl (who may have been his jailer's daughter ) who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine."

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is still cloudy, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial, others believe it's celebrated in February because in ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification.

An estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, the first one being Christmas with 2.6 billion.

The oldest known Valentine card still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was very common for friends and lovers if various social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

Like I said in the post "Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart," I am someone who believes that you should love those that are special to you everyday. There is no need to create a holiday just to give you the excuse to tell someone that you love and appreciate them and surround them with chocolates and flowers. I tell my sweetie that I love him everyday and I buy him gifts far too often than I probably should...

But, since this holiday does exist, why not celebrate it and enjoy it?

I wish you all a wonderful day full of love, whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not :) 

Oh, and guess what everyone!? Tiny Treasures has been nominated at The Lovelies for best photography blog! What an honor, not only for me, but for all of you who contribute such breathtaking images. Please go and show your support by casting your vote. All you have to do is leave a comment or twitter the feed.

There are SO many inspiring images in Tiny Treasures, I had such a hard time selecting which ones to feature in this post (I decided to post 14 in honor of today's date). I hope in viewing the ones I selected, it inspires you to go to Tiny Treasures and check out the rest and maybe even join and post your own images. Who knows, you might be the next feature...


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

May You Live a Long Life


May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of your wealth
May the dreams you hold dearest
Be those which come true
May the kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you.

To me, birthdays are a wonderful thing: it is an opportunity to show that person how grateful you are that they are in the world. It is your chance to give them plenty of hugs and kisses... fill them up with frosting... shower them with love and attention... write them a lovely card... embarrass them by bringing up stories about their adolescence, sing them "Happy Birthday" and force them to make wishes and blow out candles, make them carry around over sized balloons while wearing a birthday hat, and  give them gifts you knew would brighten their day.

Today marks my 23rd year on this earth. I feel young and I feel old all at once. I look back on my life and think about how much I've accomplished and how many things I have overcome and then I look forward and realize how much life I still have left to live... how many things I have to look forward too... how many hardships I have yet to overcome... I am ready for it all.

Today, calories don't count, chores don't exist, and demands can't be heard... 

Today is my birthday, and there is only room for laughter, joy, love... and presents of course... ;)

Oh, and please don't forget about the cake (thank you Romans for thinking up such a lovely treat).

I would like to leave all of you with a bit of birthday inspiration from some of the contributors at Tiny Treasures. I hope it brightens your day and gets you in the mood to celebrate the joy of life...

PS: be expecting a lovely Valentine's Day post :)