Some time way back in the mid-70s, when I was in elementary school, I read about the Christian martyr Valentius. According to the account I read, he was imprisoned. Desiring to write letters to his friends, but lacking any paper, he instead used the leaves that were growing outside the window of his prison cell. It was from this act that the tradition of sending little notes on St. Valentine’s Day emerged. In fact, the leaves were heart-shaped, so that’s where we got the ♥ symbol, which truthfully doesn’t look much like a real human heart.
I was so knocked out by this story that (with a little help from my mother) I made valentines for my classmates that year out of green construction paper, rather than the traditional red. I recall that in my homeroom we’d all made and decorated large envelopes that we hung on the wall to receive valentines. I believe everyone in the class brought in valentines for everyone else, so we all got 25 or 30 and probably quite a bit of candy as well. It all seems quite ridiculous in retrospect.
I did a quick little bit of research this morning, but I can’t find any evidence to support the Valentius leaf story. I suppose it’s just a little too perfect to actually have any basis in fact.
Note: Apparently I wrote about this some years ago.