Valentine's Day

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On 14 February lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day. People in love give each other cards and presents: flowers — especially roses —chocolates or jewellery. In the evening there are special parties, and couples sometimes go to restaurants for a romantic dinner. In New York City on the top of the Empire State Building there are red lights on Valentine’s Day.

Nobody knows exactly who Valentine was. Some people think he was a Christian priest when Claudius II was the Roman emperor. When he needed a lot of soldiers for his army Claudius did not permit marriages, but Valentine performed marriages secretly. The authorities discovered this, and executed him in AD 270.

European immigrants took the Valentine tradition to America. They made beautiful Valentine’s cards. On the outside of the cards they painted butterflies, flowers, cupids and hearts and on the inside they wrote original poem s. In 1847 an American, Esther Howland, created the first commercial cards: people could then buy cards in shops.

Today few people make Valentine’s cards: they buy them. Most cards are romantic, but some are humorous.

However, the cards are usually anonymous — even between husband and wife! People don’t sign their names: they sign the card with a question mark, or they do not sign the card at all.

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