One of the aspects of writing historicals that I love is developing characters who are caught in the middle of the immigrant experience and their new reality of living in the America of the 1800s. Some characters are the ones who have taken that immigrant voyage. Sometimes they are the next generation, born here but being raised by those whose early years were spent elsewhere. But, in my mind, they would still be immersed in the cultural traditions and ethnic cuisines of their home country.
In those times, oral tradition was important as a way to teaching, as well as keeping the family’s history alive. So the young ones would hear stories about the older ones’ experiences, and probably quite often. Well-established traditions from Europe would be carried across the ocean and kept alive in America.
Although the author of the first mention of nesting birds in relation to Valentine’s Day is disputed between Geoffrey Chaucer, Pardo from Valencia, John Gower from England, and Otton de Grandson from Savoy, the time period is acknowledged as the late 1300s in equating romantic love and February 14th. (Many scholars credit Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules as being the first recorded association.) Of course, that’s if you totally ignore the city of Rome’s festival of Lupercalia which was associated with fertility and celebrated on February 13-15.
The fact that in 1797, a British publisher printed a volume titled The Young Man’s Valentine Writer is evidence a practice was in place for penning notes to members of the opposite sex. This volume helped those less literarily inclined. The popularity of paper Valentines became so widespread that factories mass-produced them in the early 1800s.
I used the tradition of expressing romantic feelings through a Valentine in my story, Between The Lines. (which is included in the eight-author anthology, Lariats, Letters, and Lace.) My logic was the tradition would have been transported from England (in this case, not directly by my characters) and even people living in a small Gold Rush town would be aware of it.
Two copies of Lariats, Letters, and Lace will be given away by random selection from those who leave a comment.
Dance hall girl Daisy Shaddock and her miner brother, Perry, work toward a mutual goal of owning a book shop. Perry’s partner Walt Renfrid arrives in town, dreading the promise he must fulfill—delivery of a fateful letter. Recognizing Daisy, Walt can’t resist delaying his purpose for a few stolen moments in her company. Will the news he must deliver push her away or draw the couple closer?
Other TransCanada Romance Writer authors participating in this blog hop are: