Valentines Day 2018, Valentines Day 2019, Valentines Day Week List, Valentines Gift, Valentines Day Images. Valentines Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an annual holiday celebrated on February 14.
It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country.
- 1 VALENTINE’S DAY
- 2 Valentines Day 2018
- 3 Valentines Day 2019
- 4 HISTORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY
- 5 THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE
- 6 Valentines Day 2018
- 7 ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY
- 8 VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY OF ROMANCE
- 9 TYPICAL VALENTINE’S DAY GREETINGS
- 10 Valentines Day Greetings
- 11 Bet You Didn’t Know: Valentine’s Day
- 12 6 Surprising Facts About St. Valentine
- 13 Celebrating Valentine’s Day With a Box of Chocolates
- 14 VALENTINE’S DAY QUOTATIONS
- 15 VALENTINE’S DAY FACTS
- 16 LOOKING FOR LOVE
- 17 Did You Know?
- 18 BE MINE
- 19 CANDY IS DANDY
- 20 FLOWERS
- 21 JEWELRY
- 22 7 Heartwarming Romantic Gestures
- 23 The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- 24 The Taj Mahal
- 25 Wagner’s “Tribschen Idyll”
- 26 Edward VIII’s Abdication of the Throne
- 27 Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets for Robert Browning
- 28 Horace Greasley’s Prison Camp Escapes
- 29 Joe DiMaggio’s Flowers for Marilyn Monroe
- 30 GREAT ROMANCES IN HISTORY
- 31 THE TRUMANS
- 32 Did You Know?
- 33 THE BROWNINGS
- 34 THE ROBINSONS
- 35 HISTORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY BY NUMBERS
- 36 Valentines Day Images
- 37 Valentine’s Day
- 38 What Do People Do On Valentines Day ?
- 39 Valentines Day Public Life
- 40 Valentines Day Background
- 41 Symbols
- 42 Valentine’s Day in London
- 43 Lovely Valentine’s Day events in London
- 44 Valentine’s Day Special Events in Delhi
- 45 Valentine’s Day Gifts
- 46 Valentines Day SMS
- 47 Valentine’s Day Quotes
- 48 Valentines Day Cheap Gifts
- 49 Personalized Valentine’s Day Cards
- 50 Valentines Day Party Supplies
- 51 Valentines Day Cards
- 52 Valentine Candy
- 53 Valentine Decorations
- 54 Valentines Day Facts
- 55 Valentines Day Quotes
- 56 Valentine’s Day Crafts
- 57 Americans are falling out of love with Valentine’s Day
Each year on February 14th, many people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.” The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia.
Several martyrdom stories associated with the various Valentines that were connected to February 14 were added to later martyrologies,including a popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome which indicated he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
Valentines Day 2018
According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).
In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).
Valentines Day 2019
Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6 and July 30, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).
HISTORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY
Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.
But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.
THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
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.
Valentines Day 2018
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.
ORIGINS OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY
While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St.
Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.
They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year.
Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
VALENTINE’S DAY: A DAY OF ROMANCE
Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love.
During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.
The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
(The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
TYPICAL VALENTINE’S DAY GREETINGS
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.
By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.
Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.
Valentines Day Greetings
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.
Bet You Didn’t Know: Valentine’s Day
How did St. Valentine become associated with love and romance? Get the full story behind the holiday.
6 Surprising Facts About St. Valentine
A man named Valentinus was martyred on February 14 late in the third century A.D.—this much we know. But when it comes to details about the life of St. Valentine, legend often supersedes fact. As you celebrate this Valentine’s Day, find out the truth about the man for whom the day is named, as well as some other intriguing facts about history’s most romantic holiday.
1. The St. Valentine who inspired the holiday may have been two different men.
Officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, St. Valentine is known to be a real person who died around A.D. 270. However, his true identity was questioned as early as A.D. 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who referred to the martyr and his acts as “being known only to God.”
One account from the 1400s describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded near Rome by the emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed.
A different account claims Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome. Because of the similarities of these accounts, it’s thought they may refer to the same person.
Enough confusion surrounds the true identity of St. Valentine that the Catholic Church discontinued liturgical veneration of him in 1969, though his name remains on its list of officially recognized saints.
2. In all, there are about a dozen St. Valentines, plus a pope.
The saint we celebrate on Valentine’s Day is known officially as St. Valentine of Rome in order to differentiate him from the dozen or so other Valentines on the list. Because “Valentinus”—from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful—was a popular moniker between the second and eighth centuries A.D., several martyrs over the centuries have carried this name.
The official Roman Catholic roster of saints shows about a dozen who were named Valentine or some variation thereof. The most recently beatified Valentine is St. Valentine Berrio-Ochoa, a Spaniard of the Dominican order who traveled to Vietnam, where he served as bishop until his beheading in 1861.
Pope John Paul II canonized Berrio-Ochoa in 1988. There was even a Pope Valentine, though little is known about him except that he served a mere 40 days around A.D. 827.
3. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers and epilepsy, among many other things.
Saints are certainly expected to keep busy in the afterlife. Their holy duties include interceding in earthly affairs and entertaining petitions from living souls. In this respect, St. Valentine has wide-ranging spiritual responsibilities.
People call on him to watch over the lives of lovers, of course, but also for interventions regarding beekeeping and epilepsy, as well as the plague, fainting and traveling. As you might expect, he’s also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.
4. You can find Valentine’s skull in Rome.
The flower-adorned skull of St. Valentine is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. In the early 1800s, the excavation of a catacomb near Rome yielded skeletal remains and other relics now associated with St. Valentine.
As is customary, these bits and pieces of the late saint’s body have subsequently been distributed to reliquaries around the world. You’ll find other bits of St. Valentine’s skeleton on display in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England and France.
5. Chaucer may have invented Valentine’s Day.
The medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer often took liberties with history, placing his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real. No record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375.
In his work “Parliament of Foules,” he links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day–an association that didn’t exist until after his poem received widespread attention. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate.
When Chaucer wrote, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” he may have invented the holiday we know today.
6. You can celebrate Valentine’s Day several times a year.
Because of the abundance of St. Valentines on the Roman Catholic roster, you can choose to celebrate the saint multiple times each year.
Besides February 14, you might decide to celebrate St. Valentine of Viterbo on November 3. Or maybe you want to get a jump on the traditional Valentine celebration by feting St. Valentine of Raetia on January 7.
Women might choose to honor the only female St. Valentine (Valentina), a virgin martyred in Palestine on July 25, A.D. 308. The Eastern Orthodox Church officially celebrates St. Valentine twice, once as an elder of the church on July 6 and once as a martyr on July 30.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day With a Box of Chocolates
Conversation hearts, truffles galore and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates—these are the symbols of Valentine’s Day for many lovers around the world. But why do we have a “sweets to the sweet” tradition every February 14?
While the roots of Valentine’s Day go all the way back to Roman times, candy gift giving is a much more recent development. Is it because of chocolate’s reputed aphrodisiac qualities, or just a way for candy companies to sell more sweets in the lull between Christmas and Easter?
Whatever the reason, those ubiquitous little red boxes flood shelves every year, and this week we’re taking a look at the reasons why.
Valentine’s Day is actually named for two different Roman saints, both called Valentine and both utterly unconnected to romantic love. Though legend persists that the original St. Valentine was a priest who performed illegal marriages for the Emperor Claudius’ soldiers, there’s no evidence to suggest this ever happened.
The first mention of St. Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday appeared in the writings of Chaucer in 1382. With the medieval period came a new focus on illicit but chaste courtly love, and it is here that we see some of the familiar iconography begin to appear.
Knights would give roses to their maidens and celebrate their beauty in songs from afar. But sugar was still a precious commodity in Europe, so there was no talk of exchanging candy gifts.
By the 1840s, the notion of Valentine’s Day as a holiday to celebrate romantic love had taken over most of the English-speaking world. It was Cupid’s golden age:
The prudish Victorians adored the notion of courtly love and showered each other with elaborate cards and gifts. Into this love-crazed fray came Richard Cadbury, scion of a British chocolate manufacturing family and responsible for sales at a crucial point in his company’s history.
Cadbury had recently improved its chocolate making technique so as to extract pure cocoa butter from whole beans, producing a more palatable drinking chocolate than most Britons had ever tasted.
This process resulted in an excess amount of cocoa butter, which Cadbury used to produce many more varieties of what was then called “eating chocolate.” Richard recognized a great marketing opportunity for the new chocolates and started selling them in beautifully decorated boxes that he himself designed.
From that point, it was a quick jump to taking the familiar images of Cupids and roses and putting them on heart-shaped boxes. While Richard Cadbury didn’t actually patent the heart-shaped box, it’s widely believed that he was the first to produce one.
Cadbury marketed the boxes as having a dual purpose: When the chocolates had all been eaten, the box itself was so pretty that it could be used again and again to store mementos, from locks of hair to love letters.
The boxes grew increasingly elaborate until the outbreak of World War II, when sugar was rationed and Valentine’s Day celebrations were scaled down. But Victorian-era Cadbury boxes still exist, and many are treasured family heirlooms or valuable items prized by collectors.
VALENTINE’S DAY QUOTATIONS
Authors, poets and playwrights have been trying to capture love in words for thousands of years. Their work speaks to the enduring power of love across the ages of human history.
Check out this collection of quotes about love from some of the world’s most famous romantics, from Shakespeare, who wrote 154 sonnets dealing with love, time, beauty and mortality, to famed Chilean poet and diplomat Pablo Neruda.
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.- Aristotle
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.- Lao Tzu
My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.- Henry Ward Beecher
Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.- Anais Nin
Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.-Helen Keller
Love does not dominate; it cultivates.- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.- Zora Neale Hurston
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.- Leo Tolstoy
Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away.- Dorothy Parker
I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.- Alice Walker
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.- Pablo Neruda, “Love Sonnet XVII”
VALENTINE’S DAY FACTS
Did you know that nearly 150 million cards are exchanged each Valentine’s Day? Or that more than 40,000 American are employed at chocolate companies?
Explore these and dozens more Valentine’s Day facts about cards, chocolate, flowers and candy, the hallmarks of St. Valentine’s Day.
LOOKING FOR LOVE
141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)
Did You Know?
In addition to the U.S., Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy and Japan.
Over 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the observance, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight. (Source: Hallmark research)
Research reveals that more than half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card. (Source: Hallmark research)
There are 119 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages. Corresponding numbers for the following race and ethnic groups are:
- Hispanics: 153 men per 100 women
- Asians (single race): 132 men per 100 women (This ratio is not significantly different from that for Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites.)
- Non-Hispanic whites (single race): 120 men per 100 women
- Blacks (single race): 92 men per 100 women (The numbers of black men and women in this age group are not significantly different from one another.
There are 34 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) age 65 or older for every 100 single women of the same ages. Corresponding numbers for the following race and ethnic groups are:
- Hispanics: 38 men per 100 women
- Non-Hispanic whites (single race): 33 men per 100 women
- Blacks (single race): 33 men per 100 women
- Asians (single race): 28 men per 100 women
(Note: None of the ratios for the individual groups differ significantly from one another nor from the ratio for all people age 65 or older.)
904: The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenues.
2.2 million marriages take place in the United States annually. That breaks down to more than 6,000 a day.
112,185 marriages were performed in Nevada during 2008. So many couples “tie the knot” in the Silver State that it ranked fourth nationally in marriages, even though it’s total population that year among states was 35th.
The estimated U.S. median ages at first marriage for women and men are 25.9 and 27.6 respectively, in 2008. The age for women rose 4.2 years in the last three decades. The age for men at first marriage is up 3.6 years.
Men and women in northeastern states generally have a higher median age at first marriage than the national average. In Massachusetts, for example, women were a median of 27.4 years old and men 29.1 years of age at first marriage. States where people typically marry young include Utah, where women were a median of 21.9 years and men, 23.9 years.
57% and 60% of American women and men, respectively, are 15 or older and currently married (includes those who are separated).
70%: The percentage of men and women ages 30 to 34 in 2008 who had been married at some point in their lives – either currently or formerly.
4.9 million opposite-sex cohabitating couples maintained households in 2005. These couples comprised 4.3 percent of all households.
CANDY IS DANDY
1,241: The number of locations producing chocolate and cocoa products in 2004. These establishments employed 43,322 people. California led the nation in the number of such establishments with 136, followed by Pennsylvania with 122. (Source:http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/cbptotal.html)
515 locations produced nonchocolate confectionary products in 2004. These establishments employed 22,234 people.
The total value of shipments in 2004 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products was $13.9 billion. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $5.7 billion industry.
3,467 Number of confectionery and nut stores in the United States in 2004. Often referred to as candy stores, they are among the best sources of sweets for Valentine’s Day.
The per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005 was 25.7 pounds. Candy consumption has actually declined over the last few years; in 1997, each American gobbled or savored more than 27 pounds of candy a year.
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2005 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $397 million.
Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for nearly three-quarters of this amount ($289 million).
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses in 2005 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $39 million. Among all types of cut flowers, roses were third in receipts ($39 million)to lilies ($76.9 million) and tulips ($39.1 million).
There were 21,667 florists nationwide in 2004. These businesses employed 109,915 people.
There were 28,772 jewelry stores in the United States in 2004. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to lovers of all ages. In February 2006, these stores sold $2.6 billion worth of merchandise.
(This figure has not been adjusted for seasonal variation, holiday or trading day differences or price changes). The merchandise at these locations could well have been produced at one of the nation’s 1,864 jewelry manufacturing establishments. The manufacture of jewelry was an $9 billion industry in 2004.
7 Heartwarming Romantic Gestures
As the French writer François Rabelais once noted, “Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective and valuable than words.” For proof—and a guarantee that your Valentine’s Day gift will seem inadequate—look no further than these famous romantic acts, which stand as some of history’s most passionate expressions of love.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
King Nebuchadnezzar II supposedly built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. as a gift for his wife, Amytis of Media. According to ancient historians, Amytis had difficulty adjusting to life in the flat deserts of Babylon and longed for the forests and mountains of her native Media (modern-day Kurdistan).
To cure her homesickness, Nebuchadnezzar II ordered the construction of a series of terraced gardens within the walls of the city. The Hanging Gardens—later included as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—were supposedly hundreds of meters wide and filled with a variety of exotic plants, herbs and flowers.
A marvel of engineering, the desert oasis was likely irrigated by water from the river Euphrates via a complex system of pumps. Modern archaeologists have questioned whether the gardens actually existed or are simply the stuff of legend.
The Taj Mahal
India’s Taj Mahal took over a decade to build, employed thousands of workers and nearly bankrupted an empire—all so a man could express his love for a woman. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the famed landmark around 1632.
It was intended as a tomb for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. According to accounts, the Shah was so despondent after his spouse’s passing that he entered a prolonged period of mourning, renouncing music and other forms of entertainment for two years.
He built the Taj Mahal—with its elaborate minarets, 250-foot-high domed mausoleum and 42-acre grounds—primarily as a monument to her memory. When he died in 1666, Shah Jahan was buried alongside his beloved wife in the Taj’s white marble tomb.
Wagner’s “Tribschen Idyll”
Best known for rousing pieces of music like “Ride of the Valkyries,” the composer Richard Wagner might not have a reputation as a hopeless romantic. Still, Wagner is also remembered for secretly composing the symphony “Tribschen Idyll” (later renamed “Siegfried Idyll”) as a present for his wife, Cosima, on her 33rd birthday.
On Christmas morning in 1870, Wagner and a 15-piece orchestra quietly assembled on the staircase of his house and woke Cosima by playing the piece, now considered one of his greatest works.
Deeply moved, Cosima would later write in her diary, “When I woke up I heard a sound, it grew ever louder, I could no longer imagine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music!”
Edward VIII’s Abdication of the Throne
The love lives of Britain’s monarchs have long been a source of public fascination, but perhaps the most romantic royal tale of all concerns King Edward VIII, who chose a woman over the throne. Edward became king in 1936 after the death of his father, George V.
His brief reign was punctuated by controversy, most notably his infatuation with a socialite named Wallis Simpson. Not only was Simpson an American, she was a married woman who had already once divorced.
As gossips portrayed Simpson as everything from a scheming seductress to a German spy, the relationship plunged the monarchy into crisis. Forced to choose between love and crown, Edward abdicated the throne in December 1936.
Simpson quickly divorced her husband, and she and Edward married in 1937. They spent the rest of their lives in retirement in France.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets for Robert Browning
The marriage of poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning is one of literature’s great romances, and the couple’s love for one another often spilled over into their work.
The most famous example came in 1850 with the publication of Barrett’s book “Sonnets from the Portuguese,” a series of love poems composed when the pair first began their courtship.
Barrett only revealed the work to her husband after hearing him rail against the thematic shortcomings of what he called “personal poetry.” To counter his argument, she admitted that she had once written a series of 44 sonnets about her love for him.
Struck by the beauty of the poems, Browning encouraged his wife to publish them; she finally agreed but insisted that they be presented as alleged translations of Portuguese sonnets in order to hide their personal nature. “Sonnets From the Portuguese” contains what many consider some of Barrett’s most exquisite verses and includes the immortal line, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Horace Greasley’s Prison Camp Escapes
World War II prisoner Horace Greasley not only escaped from a prison camp to be with his lover—he did it more than 200 times. A British soldier, Greasley was captured by the Nazis in 1940 and sent to a detention center in Germany.
While there he began a passionate affair with Rosa Rauchbach, a German of Jewish descent who was working as a translator. Just as their romance began to blossom, the couple was separated when Greasley was shipped to a new camp 40 miles away.
Desperate to see Rauchbach and too deep in Germany to make a full escape, Greasley began breaking out of prison up to four times a week, trekking to wherever she was working and returning before his absence was noticed. At each meeting, Rauchbach would give Greasley food and supplies for his fellow soldiers back at the camp.
The pair even enlisted the help of other prisoners in the camp to coordinate their trysts, which continued until Greasley’s liberation in 1945. The two attempted to remain in touch, but Rauchbach and a baby possibly fathered by Greasley died in childbirth shortly after the war.
Joe DiMaggio’s Flowers for Marilyn Monroe
Famed baseball player Joe DiMaggio and actress Marilyn Monroe were only married for a volatile 274 days in 1954, but “Joltin’ Joe” remained infatuated with the legendary blonde bombshell for the rest of his life.
It was DiMaggio who secured Monroe’s release from a psychiatric ward when she suffered an emotional collapse in the wake of her divorce from playwright Arthur Miller, and he was reportedly considering proposing to her again before her death in 1962.
DiMaggio never remarried and refused to comment on Monroe’s death to the press. In a famous romantic gesture, he sent red roses to her grave in Los Angeles three times a week for the next 20 years.