Mapping the History Behind Valentine’s Day: a Homeschool Geography LessonJanelle Knutson
What do a Roman festival, a Christian saint, and a French duke all have in common? They are part of the history behind Valentine’s Day.
As you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, take time to learn about the history behind the holiday. You can even print out a WonderMap and mark all the places that have contributed to the traditions we have come to celebrate each year. Here are some ideas to get you started with your Valentine’s geography lesson.
The history of Valentine’s Day actually starts with a Roman festival. Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15. Many believe that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 Valentine’s Day to replace this pagan holiday. The Romans also contributed to the holiday with Cupid, the Roman god of love.
MAPPING: Draw or cut out a picture of Cupid and place it on your map near Rome.
There are several different stories about who Saint Valentine really was. Tradition has it that he was a priest in Rome who died on February 14, 269. Have your older student research Saint Valentine and give a short oral presentation. Your younger child may enjoy listening to (affiliate link) a story about Saint Valentine.
MAPPING: Print out a picture of Saint Valentine and glue it on your map near Rome.
Giving Valentine’s Day cards to friends and loved ones is a significant part of Valentine’s Day. It is recorded that the Duke of Orleans was held prisoner in the Tower of London in 1415. While there, he wrote poems and love letters to his wife in France. Many believe this is where the tradition of sending cards to loved ones on Valentine’s Day came from.
MAPPING: Draw a picture of a tower in England and a Valentine’s Day card in France. Draw a line to connect them to represent the duke sending love letters to his wife in France.
Esther A. Howland
Esther A. Howland lived in the United States in the 1800’s and is often called “The Mother of the American Valentine.” She was one of the first people to manufacture Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. It might be fun to research more about who Esther A. Howland was and how she started creating cards.
MAPPING: Draw a Valentine’s Day card in Massachusetts where Esther created her cards.
Valentine’s Day Chocolate
Chocolates in beautiful heart shaped boxes are associated with Valentine’s Day thanks to a British man named Richard Cadbury. He was the first person to put chocolates in pretty boxes that could be used even after all the tasty treats had been eaten.
Milton Hershey brought the manufacturing of chocolates to the United States. His famous chocolate kisses are often shared on Valentine’s Day.
MAPPING: Draw a heart in England to represent Richard Cadbury and his heart shaped boxes. Draw a Hershey kiss in Pennsylvania to represent Milton Hershey and the Hershey chocolate factory.
Chocolate, Cupid, and Cards
Chocolate candy, cupid, red and pink hearts, cards and love are all part of Valentine’s Day. Discovering how each of these symbols became associated with the holiday is an enjoyable way to incorporate learning into the holiday celebration.
There is still a lot more history and geography behind Valentine’s Day just waiting to be unearthed and mapped by you and your kids. Print out some WonderMaps and start learning!