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Valentine lore abounds

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Superstitions abound about Valentine’s Day and many involve birds.

If the first bird a girl sees on Valentine’s Day is a robin, she will know she is to marry a sailor. If she sees a goldfinch, she will marry a millionaire and if she sees a sparrow, she will be the wife of a poor man. But if she glimpses a woodpecker first, she will never marry.

So go many of the tales that have become part of the lore (though many have been forgotten) of love and Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few others:

The oldest known valentine card still in existence is on display at the British Museum. This valentine is a love poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Christian tradition for Valentine’s Day dates back to the third century, when a kindly priest named Valentinus was arrested by emperor Claudius II for crimes that included helping Christian martyrs and marrying young lovers in secret.

Some sources say that, while in jail before his martyrdom, Valentinus wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter, signing it “From Your Valentine.” If that is true, Valentinus started a powerful tradition.

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, 1 billion cards are sent for Valentine’s Day, second only to Christmas (2.5 billion).

Flowers are another tradition of Valentine’s Day. Red roses are said to denote true love. A pansy declares loving thoughts, a periwinkle suggests early friendship and a red tulip professes powerful love.

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