The History of Valentine’s Day


By Sandie Neri

What is the history of Valentine’s Day?

As any curious person would do, I turned to Google for this answer, and the Valentine facts written below come straight from’s website:

Who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends 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. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Other Valentine’s Day Facts:

  • In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century.
  • Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.
  • In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.”
  • Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)
  • Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

No matter how it actually started, Valentine’s Day has become overly commercialized, and if you get caught up in the hype and frenzy, it could cost you plenty. Remember to focus on quality, not quantity. While shiny things are indeed nice, they do not take the place of pleasant conversation, the warm sensation of holding hands or cuddling with someone special, or a shared laugh over a private joke no one else is aware of.  My recipe for a romantic evening: Chinese take-out, a romantic comedy movie either bought, rented, on Netflix, or On-Demand, and chilled Sangria with added chopped fruit. Create lasting memories… Not credit debt.


Decline of Communication

textingBy Sandie Neri

Is texting and tweeting making us more distant…and less productive?

I could not help but notice lately that while we now have several ways in which to communicate with each other…there seems to be less actual communicating.  According to an article on , as society increasingly texts and tweets away, relations with our fellow man are suffering for it. Paradoxically, as we gain more tools to communicate with one another, our words seem to have less meaning.

Time-honored principles such as honesty and common courtesy have been on the wane for decades but these unfortunate behavioral shifts now appear to be growing at an explosive rate. The trend is largely driven by our increasing ability to stay instantaneously connected to the rest of the world.

Sadly, this is not the only drawback. Today, due to the constant interruption which comes hand in hand with so much connectivity, the workplace is rife with distraction, and thus less productivity. There are times when efficiency requires careful deliberation. In today’s world though “multi-tasking” is thought to be all the rage, the concept is largely farcical. Oh sure, people may think they’re multi-tasking but if you mean effectively accomplishing multiple things at once, particularly in a variety of mediums, most miss the mark. Chances are, with all this “doing” going on, nothing is done very well.

As we have become slaves to our electronic masters the world has also become a colder and more impersonal place. Everywhere we look there are examples of people who are in each other’s physical presence but rather than interacting socially with one another they are communicating with someone else via their handy electronic gadget.  They are there but they’re not really there.

When we communicate face to face we have the benefit of understanding one another through body language, the look in one’s eyes and tone inflection. When communicating by voice alone, it can be more difficult to understand one another but at least we have the tenor of voice to guide us.

While I am sad that communicating is declining at the rate it has been in recent years, I have to admit I have also slipped into a slightly less communicative persona. By keeping up with my writing, I am hoping to at least improve at another form of communication.

Mens Basketball Coach Christiansen-Schedule

christensen_PsBy Sandie Neri

The 5th Avenue Journal would like to congratulate the Triton College Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Christiansen on his teams 200th win. Coach Christiansen is no stranger to great accomplishments, he has in his coaching career been named the District 4 Coach-of-the-Year, the Region IV District A Coach-of-the-Year, and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) Junior College Division II Coach-of-the-Year in 2011.

On his faculty page for Triton’s website, Coach Christiansen credits the values instilled in him by his parents as his reason for his success. “I was blessed to be raised by two parents who understood the value of discipline, hard work, and education”. Another great influence lead him further on his road to coaching success, ” I played for an outstanding coach in high school and had the opportunity to grow as a coach under him once I finished my schooling.”

In a more recent interview published by The Frankiln Park Herald, Coach Christiansen revealed a vital element needed for success as a basketball coach – Love. “You have to have a love for the game” states Christiansen, as he also tries to give young athletes something to consider while they dream of fame and fortune in college sports … the academics. To be eligible, you must remain in good academic standing, and thus balance sports and studies well. Christiansen warns “It’s the student part that is challenging”. There are still some games left in this season, so we encourage you to show your school spirit, and go cheer on Coach Christiansen and our great basketball team! Here is what the remainder of the season looks like:

TRITON COLLEGE Mens Basketball Schedule

2012-13 Schedule
Sat. Feb. 2 *Madison Madison, WI 3 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 6 *MATC-Milwaukee River Grove, IL 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 9 *Joliet River Grove, IL 3 p.m.
Wed.  Fe. 13 *Rock Valley Rockford, IL  7:30 p.m. 
Sat. Feb. 16 *College of DuPage River Grove, IL 7 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 20 *Harper Palatine, IL 5 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 23 *Wright Chicago, IL 3 p.m.
Thu. Feb. 28 Region IV Quarterfinals Higher Seed TBA
Sun. March 3 Region IV Semi-Finals Oglesby, IL TBA
Sat. March 9 Region IV Finals Oglesby, IL TBA
Tue – Sat. March 19-23 National Tournament Danville, IL TBA

 *Denotes North Central Community College Conference Games (N4C) 

Learn about other cultures through art, music and dance !

FolkArtExamplesExamples of: Mexican-Oaxacan Animal,Italian-Venetian Mask, and Polish-Wycinanki

By Sandie Neri

Learn about other cultures through art, music and dance !

The Cultural Heritage Series is a series of classes that are being offered through Triton College’s School of Continuing Education, each one educates you about another culture by studying their folk art, music, and dance. Helping to make these classes possible is the Cantata Adult Life Services in Brookfield,IL.

The different classes being offered focus on the Mexican, Italian, and Polish cultures. The classes begin February 2 or February 6, and the schedule looks like this:

Mexican Arts

Cost: $99

Meets: Wednesdays, February 6 – March 27, 2013, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Location: Woodlands Maple Room, Cantata Adult Life Services, 8700 W. 31st St., Brookfield, IL

The class may include a field trip to the Mexican Fine Arts Museum on the near southwest side of Chicago. Materials required for class: a sketchbook and a notebook.

Italian Arts

Cost: $99

Meets: Saturdays, February 2 – March 16, 9-11:05 a.m.

Location: Triton College, 2000 Fifth Ave., River Grove, IL

Polish Arts

Cost: $99

Meets: Saturdays, February 2 – March 16, 9-11:05 a.m.

Location: Triton College

The class may include a field trip to the Polish Heritage Museum in Chicago.

To register, contact the Triton College School of Continuing Education at (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3500 or visit


shellsOpinion by: Jim Clifton

Now that President Barack Obama’s second term is on the books, how realistic is the hope that significant change will be achieved in the next four years? Will we get our enormous debt under control and initiate a true recovery? Or will Washington simply recycle the gridlock into 2016 and beyond, making it a permanent political system? The evidence seems to support this conclusion.

First it is necessary to understand that the politicians actually cultivate divided government, because any real unity that would lead to change would upset the status quo that finances our electoral process. They are desperate to preserve the Wall Street/globalism agenda that has been in place since at least the 1990’s, and buy-off the American public through growing deficits. They substitute job growth with limitless borrowing, low interest rates, etc. Even now, both Obama and Congress, including former hard-line Republicans, are negotiating another raising of the debt ceiling, and keep the artificial stimulus that pumps up our economy going. They have miraculously discovered that we are indeed not at the end of our deficit tunnel, and more red ink is possible. How? Because at current levels our debt to GDP ratio is only around 100%, and it is possible to go even higher. They cite Japan, still quite functioning, and see their ratio is nearly 200%! Thus, they can merely coast thru the next two years, until mid-term elections, and even the next presidential one, by continuing the formula of arguing and spending, with only modest compromises regarding most of the issues. Indeed, it seems they are just creating a business plan for the survival of their own corrupt two-party system.

Second, it is important to define what kind of leader President Obama really is. He seems to very definitely fit the Bill Clinton mold, that is, he is a populist/opportunist mix. He dramatically challenged the status and integrity of Hillary Clinton in 2008, and aroused the Democratic Party base to his favor. But once in power, outside of health reform, he has failed to dent the power of the corporate/financial elite, and has even upheld it. His fiscal cliff remedies are hardly far-reaching, and perpetuate the old shell game. His trade agreements with several smaller countries might actually result in a net loss for American jobs. His modest defense cuts and renewed pledge to maintain America as a costly world policeman seem incongruous to economic reality and may invite disaster. It is unsettling to see a modern populist candidate and gifted orator turn into an effective lame duck, if that is to be the case. The fault may lie in restricting our presidents to only two terms, for this leaves only one re-election left to complete policy or reform. Not a decent chance at all in a continuing, divided era.

“The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the 5th Avenue Journal’s staff and advisor, or Triton College.”