Why do we celebrate Valentine's Day? And what do cupids and lace have to do with anything? February 14 is a lighthearted occasion with ancient origins. No one is really sure who St. Valentine, patron of lovers, really was. According to one legend, he was a Roman priest who agreed to secretly marry young couples when Emperor Claudius II decreed that no one could be married because he needed men to fight wars instead. February 14, when Valentine supposedly died, was the eve of an important Roman festival--Lupercalia. On this evening, Roman youths drew the names of girls who would be their partners during the festival. In this lively and informative book, readers will read the first known valentine ever written (by Margery Brews in 1477), discover the golden age of English valentines, learn the difference between "rebus" and "puzzle purse" valentines, and more. "Enter Cupid" is a chapter tracing the symbolism and origins of the strange, heart-piercing, winged babies, and explanations of valentine symbols like flowers and hearts follow. Helpful supplemental material--a list of stories and poems for Valentine's Day, a bibliography, and index--will help young researchers as well. Edna Barth has a long and respected history of demystifying occasions in Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick's Day Symbols
, Lilies, Rabbits, and Painted Eggs: The Story of the Easter Symbols
, Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols
, and more. She has a knack for snappy, straightforward, well-researched explanations of the history and traditions behind holidays, and illustrator Ursula Arndt adds a sprightly touch with delicate pen-and-ink illustrations. (Ages 9 and older)
About the Author
Ursula Arndt has illustrated a number of popular children's books, including the six holiday titles written by Edna Barth for Clarion. She is now retired and lives in Germany.
The late Edna Barth worked as a librarian, a teacher, and an editor of books for young people before becoming the author of many well-known books for children.