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Origination of Valentine's Day

There are many legends associated with the origination of Valentineís Day. The most popular goes as follows:

According to the story, Valentine was a Catholic bishop who believed in the sanctity of marriage, but the Roman emperor Claudius believed single men were better soldiers. In 269 AD, Emperor Claudius II declared marriage in his empire illegal.

Bishop Valentine, in spite of the emperorís ban, performed secret marriage ceremonies but was found out, arrested and sentenced to death. While he languished in prison, waiting for his execution, the bishop fell in love with his jailerís daughter.

The object of his affection was blind but Valentineís love and great faith miraculously restored her vision. Prior to his execution, the bishop signed a farewell message to his beloved: "From your Valentine" ó a phrase still used today.

Two centuries later, the Catholic church commemorated February 14th, the date of the bishopís execution, as St. Valentineís Day. In the many years since, many traditions have become a part of the saintís day. During the Middle Ages, both men and women would draw names to determine their Valentine and the names were worn on their sleeves. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase "wear your heart on your sleeve."

However, another version of the origination of the phrase comes from the Middle Ages. Young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

For Those Born in the 1960's or Earlier

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank alcohol while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproofing on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets, and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because we were outside playing!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back by when the street lights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day and we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the breaks. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstation's, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our tenth birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how do deal with it all AND YOU ARE ONE OF THEM! CONGRATULATIONS!

The History Channel's
Digging for the Truth

Digging for the Truth puts the adventure back into archaeology. No location is too dangerous, no terrain too rough, no culture too exotic for explorer and survival expert Josh Bernstein. With his unique hands-on approach, he travels the globe, seeking answers to some of the most enigmatic mysteries of the ancient world.

Josh's next adventure will be told in a comic book as he searches for the lost kingdom of Shangri-La. But this time things are a bit different; Josh is asking for your help to solve the mystery. Does this ideal place, free of the trappings and anxieties of modern life exist? Or is Shangri-La simply a Tibetan legend?

To help you solve the mystery, tune in to Digging for the Truth every Monday at 9pm Eastern time and then log on to History.com and answer a couple of trivia questions about the night's episode. You will then receive a clue about Shangri-La. Piece together the weekly clues and the mystery will be revealed. When you believe you've dug for the truth, submit your answer on History.com. Your correct answer may reward you with a fabulous trip to an exotic locale featured this season.

January Brain Teaser

A father and son are involved in an automobile accident. The father is dead at the scene. The son is flown to the emergency room of a hospital in critical condition. The doctor walks in and states "I can't treat this patient because he is my son." How can this be?

Answer: The doctor was the boy's mother.

Febuary Brain Teaser

A man is offering to sell coins bearing the date 55 B.C. Pictured on the coin is Julius Caesar Imperator & Dictator. No one buys them. Why not? (Hint: This is the correct emperor for that date and authentic coins bearing Julius Caesar's likeness do exist from that era.)

Answer: Next issue. (No prizes offered for correct answer.)

PS: If you make any money by winning bets on these brain teasers, a little commission would be nice :-)

HistoryBuff.com Online Newspaper Archives

Over one hundred people responded to my earlier email offering to let subscribers become beta testers for the upgraded Online Newspaper Archives. All reported success in fast downloads of newspaper images. Even those with dialup connections reported fast download - a matter of seconds. Several people pointed out that the one long column of categories - 1700-1739, etc. - made additional scrolling needed to view the archives offerings. Navigation can be made with less scrolling involved but it will take some outside programming to accomplish it. As soon as I get enough money to afford to hire someone to do the programming, a better navigation format will be implemented. Thanks to all who beta tested the upgraded Online Newspaper Archives and responded with their comments.

The URL for the upgraded HistoryBuff.com Online Newspapers Archive is:


January Contest

QUESTION: Only one American president did not have a traditional First Lady. Who was he and why was someone other than the president's wife made First Lady?

ANSWER: James Buchanan because he was the only bachelor president.

Sixty-nine people entered the contest. Thirteen were disqualifed due to an incorrect subject heading, incorrect answer, or did not indicate which ONE prize they wanted if they won. This left fifty-six people still eligible to win. Two prizes went unclaimed.
The January contest winners were:
  • John Ryan - Canada
  • Richard Weiss - Rhode Island
  • Grace Legner - Florida
  • Tammy Grube - Vermont
  • Deborah Pike - Hawaii
  • Bernard Sonn - Florida
  • Noreen Marchand - Connecticut
  • Edward Waugh - New York

This Issue's Question

To enter the Grand Prize Contest, send by email an essay of not more than 75 words relating why you want to win it. One grand prize will be awarded. DO NOT answer the alternate question in this email.

To enter the Alternate Contest, answer the question below and indicate which ONE prize you want if you win. (Only one of each is available.)

Alternate Contest Question: Who was the first American president born in the United States but NOT in one of the original thirteen colonies that became states?

Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Thursday, February 16, 2006. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but can only win one prize.

  • To enter either contest, email your essay or answer to help@historybuff.com.

  • If entering for the Grand Prize, enter "Contest Entry Grand Prize" for the subject heading. Include ONLY your essay and NOT the answer to the alternate contest question. (Only one grand prize is available.)

  • If entering for any of the alternate contest prizes, enter "Contest Entry" for the subject heading and answer the Alternate Contest Question.

  • If entering both contests, send separate emails.

  • Entries with prize desires such as "any prize is OK," "any of the historic newspapers" etc. will be disqualified. You MUST select ONE prize.

  • Subscribers entering the Grand Prize contest and submitting an essay of NOT MORE THAN 75 words in length, correct subject heading, and submission received by the deadline, will be considered for winning. All other Grand Prize entries will be disqualified.

  • From subscribers entering the alternate contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE alternate contest prize they want to win, NINE will be selected to win ONE of the alternate contest prizes below.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.

Grand Prize
(One winner will be selected)

Original Historic Newspapers From the 1700's
  • One London Gazette dated December 4-8, 1707 (Single sheet printed both sides)
  • One Gentleman's Magazine dated June 1747 (45 Pages)
Alternate Contest Prizes
(Only one of each offered)

Failure is Not an Option
Documentary Produced by the History Channel

Sports Bloopers
Over one hour of bloopers

Music CD & DVD
Three CD set of Doo Wop Era Music

  • 16 Candles - The Crests
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
  • Come Go With Me - The Del-Vikings
  • There Goes My Baby - The Drifters
  • Little Darlin' - The Diamonds
  • Plus 30 more songs!

Civil War Battles
Create your own version of
the Battle of Gettysburg

Original Historic Newspapers

Original New-York Spectator historic newspaper from 1832

Original New-England Palladium & Commercial Advertiser (Boston) historic newspaper from 1825

Original The Union (Washington, DC) historic newspaper from 1847

Original New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette historic newspaper from 1853

Original The Daily Herald (Massachusetts) historic newspaper from 1863

Original The Commercial Bulletin (Boston) historic newspaper from 1867
That's it for this issue.

Rick Brown

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