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Garden Club celebrates Valentine's Day
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Jeannine Girton presented a look at Valentine’s Day to 13 members of Great Bend Garden Club at their February meeting.
Historians trace the origin of Valentine’s Day to an ancient Roman fertility holiday observed on Feb. 14 called The Feast of Lupercalia. Its current name of Valentine’s Day is in reference to a Roman priest named Valentine. One of the legends tells of when the Roman Emperor Claudius decided that his soldiers responded better to the call to duty if they were not married, he canceled all marriages and engagements for his soldiers. The Christian priest named Valentine defied Claudius and secretly began marrying couples. When this defiance was discovered, Valentine was brutally beaten and put to death on Feb. 14, about 270 AD. After his death, he was named a Saint. Another version of the legend tells that Valentine was killed because he had attempted to help Christians escape from a Roman prison. Another tells that while in prison himself, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him in prison and wrote a sweet farewell letter to her and signed it, “From your Valentine.” Around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day to honor the martyr Valentinus and to end the pagan celebration.
Regardless of its origin, Valentine’s Day has spread all around the world. During the Middle Ages, people in England and France held a belief that birds started to look for their mates on Feb. 14.

Love and romance is the theme of the day and last year billions of dollars were spent in the United States alone on gifts, flowers, food and wine. One of the most famous Valentine gifts ever given was the building of the Taj Mahal in India by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beautiful wife begun in 1634 and taking 22 years and 20,000 laborers.

President Nancy Williams conducted the club’s business meeting, during which Rose Garden Chairman Alice Young reported that Tim Wornkey, sexton of the Great Bend City Cemetery, has offered to finance the summer maintenance of the Rose Garden with funds available to the cemetery. Tammi Wagner will be hired to weed, fertilize, spray and mulch throughout the summer, and the cemetery staff will help with the removal and planting of rose bushes. Members of Garden Club will continue with a watering schedule, maintain the memorial plaques and purchase new roses.

Following the meeting, club member Eileen Ingersol provided cuttings from her Christmas cactus to those who wished to have one.
Delicious Valentine cookie and candy sweets were served by hostess Fern Tompkins.
The next meeting of Great Bend Garden Club will be on Thursday, March 15 at 10 a.m. in the Barton County Extension Office meeting room. Eileen Ingersol will be the hostess and the program arranged by Becky Dudrey will be by Pam Martin from the Wetlands Education Center. Anyone who enjoys gardening is encouraged to visit the meeting.