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DC Valentine's Day Guide

This Valentine's Day take your sweetheart on a magical date that will always be remembered. Begin with a stroll down Constitution Avenue and admire what we call the French Heart of Washington. "Washington est une ville de l'amour." Step into a gallery and explore different mediums: paint, marble sculpture, steel, play-doh, bubblegum? Like love, Art is full with the unknown. When your partner's intellectual curiosity is sated take a short journey to relax on the banks of the majestic Potomac. Some accounts say the name means "the river to which wealth is brought". Admire the reflections of a grand arched bridge. "L'amour peut construire un pont entre le coeur."

Warm the winter chill from your loved one's hands and stimulate romantic thoughts. "Que recherchez-vous dans un compagnon d'ame?" The chemistry of love has hunger and thirst. A short cab ride and your intimately dining in a chic, elegant restaurant with a distant European air. Warm candlelight, eyes locked in attraction, savoring great food, delicious wine, and desserts carefully shaped as hearts. These are powerful aphrodisiacs. Our Valentine's Day guide will help you find tasteful ideas and unique Valentine's Day gifts that will enhance your relationship and bring you true Love. There may be a temptation of sensual greediness.

Valentine's Day Resources

· Facts
· History

Unique Valentines - Romantic Shopping Gifts Him and Her

Start your romance with the perfect valentine idea. Send a romantic message in a bottle. Surprise your loved one with a bed of roses spread around the sheets. Imagine giving a wood crafted Valentine Treasure Chest filled with items of affection. Looking for a good flower delivery store or a bakery that will make the best impression? Decorate your table with a set of long stem rose candles.

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Romantic Locations - Perfect Date Spots for Valentine's Day

A perfect date location for your loved one is easy to find. Review our list of top romantic locations in Washington to celebrate Valentine's Day. From a secret lovers view on top an overlook observation deck of the 315-foot granite clock tower to a romantic walk through the beautiful US Botanical Garden. Make sure this year is one to remember by visiting one of our top date locations this year for Valentine's Day.

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Romanic Dining - Top Restaurants For Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is approaching faster than a runaway "love train", and you haven't got a clue where to eat. Relax the Washington Metro area restaurant scene is booming with a plethora of eclectic restaurants from the hottest and trendiest to the downright homey. Our local chefs cannot resist the inexorable celebration of this special day of love.

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Romantic Stories - Fascinating History and Tales about Valentine's Day

The greatest love stories are those that capture the romantic progression of love between two people. Stories written for only for lovers eyes. Once you start reading you cannot stop. They have the power to make you laugh, cry and feel inspired. Our staff have reviewed stories that will inspire you to pull off a perfect, romantic evening.

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Valentine Facts - Interesting Facts About Valentine's Day

Ever wonder how many Valentine's Day cards are given on February 14th? Who do you think receives the most Valentine Day cards? Everywhere you look there are hearts all around. What percentage of Americans celebrate Valentine's Day? Find out all these answers and interesting Valentine's Day trivia in our Valentine's Day Facts section.

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Valentine's Day Image Gallery

Images help us remember special days and events. Come along on our journey as we capture memorable times and places in our Photo Galleries.

The Hope diamond is the world's largest deep blue diamond. AT 45.52 carats, it is classified as a type IIb diamond. The diamond's blue coloration is attributed to trace amounts of boron in the stone.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is a large (45.52 carat), deep blue diamond, currently housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. The diamond is legendary for the curse it supposedly puts on whoever possesses it. The Hope Diamond appears to be a brilliant blue to the naked eye because of trace amounts of boron within the diamond. The Hope Diamond exhibits red fluorescence under ultraviolet light and is classified as a Type IIb diamond.

Amuse Bouche and Russia Vodka Shot and Oyster Tsarini oyster on the half shell with crème fraiche and caviar.

Russia House Valentines Dinner

Nested on the corner of Connecticut and Florida Avenues, this inspired Russian restaurant and lounge is evocatively reminiscent of the era of the Tsars. The Russian-infused intercontinental cuisine pleases the most refine palate with such nouveau-traditional entrees as the Beef Stroganoff and the Chicken Kiev. Further true to tradition, the Russia House features an impressive selection of caviars and one of the largest vodka collections in Washington, D.C.

Valentine's Day Event Calendar

Looking for somewhere to take your special valentine? Make this Valentine's Day truly memorable by taking your significant other out for a night on the town in our Nation's Capitol.

Find out Valentine's Day specials and other great events in the Washington DC area by visiting our Valentine's Day Events Calendar.

Understanding this Day of Romance

Saint Valentine's Day or Valentine's Day is a holiday on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other; sending Valentine's cards, donating to charity or gifting candy. It is very common to present flowers on Valentine's Day. The holiday is named after two men, both Christian martyrs among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

History of Valentine's Day

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, 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 -- his crop of potential soldiers. 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.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

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 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, 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 the 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 then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would 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 then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, 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 February -- Valentine's Day -- should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written 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, which was written in 1415, is 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.

In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, 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. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine 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.)

Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

Valentine's Day Articles

WHAT TO GET HER - By: John T. Allen

The never ending quandary: what to get her for Valentine's Day? Throughout the years I've heard friends and family alike wonder aloud: "What should I get her (and sometimes him) for Valentine's Day?"

It's an age old question which, I suppose, was easier to answer 60,000 years ago when our cave-dwelling brethren roamed the Earth. I imagine the choices were limited to a small variety of items which could be considered "gifts" and fewer still could be thought of as a "romantic gift." Perhaps several animal bones could be fastened together to be used as a hair clip; outside of this, most likely a suitors' choices were limited to either a stick or a rock.

In modern times this question still exists but with a twist: rather than having too few choices, modern man (and woman) are now presented with literally thousands of choices so the question arises: is it really any easier to find something suitable for the object of your desire than it was many millennia ago or do so many choices make it more difficult?

Honestly, I have no idea, but having walked in the shoes of a suitor several times personally, the one thing I do know about women (don't get me wrong: what I don't know about women could fill many a warehouse) is ninety-nine times out of one hundred it truly is the thought that counts, and the other one-in-a-hundred has the idea "Bring me a Mercedes or be on your way."

This being the case, if it's the thought that counts and not the actual cost of the item, you're going to want to stand out from the herd, so to speak, and get her something different ... something, well, unique.

Sure, if you want the object of your affection to think you gave it 5 seconds worth of thought, then by all means go with the clichéd "chocolate and roses." Don't get me wrong: these are not bad gifts, and for sure something is better than nothing, but to stand out among your peers, your gift needs to be something exclusive; something uncommon. You could make something by hand, but unless you're a professional artist or in the 4th grade, you may give hesitation to this idea, or you could practice due diligence and find her something different.

Because cost is a factor for 99 percent of us, this man has done his due diligence and found a website that offers a selection of items that fulfill the requirements most of us are looking for: there are many choices to suit every budget and most importantly these are items you'll not find anywhere else. The name of the website is UniqueValentineGift.com, and trust me: their selection is quite unique indeed, and they have what you need regardless of your budget.

One fine example is the company's "Message in a Bottle" which has a love poem and rose petals in the bottle wrapped in a red bow - it looks handmade because it is - so it appears your romantic heart went through quite a bit of time and effort to bring it together. For the more budget conscious, there is the Love Letter and Chocolate Rose gift set for just fourteen dollars – that's less than you would pay for a dozen roses, can and will leave a much longer lasting impression and most importantly will be totally original. The love letter can be something penned by you or a pre-written love letter by a poet supplied by the company. All love letters are printed on parchment paper and wrapped with a sheer, red-ribbon bow.

They also offer a kit with love potion and rose petals to spread on the bed (because it doesn't get much more romantic than that) sterling silver jewelry and other gems. This online store will give many ideas and is ideal for the time strapped among us. So if you are looking for something memorable, affordable and romantic, pop on over to UniqueValentineGift.com and prepare to be inspired.

Me? I have my fingers crossed (most likely in vain but hey, doesn't hurt to dream) for a black Mercedes SLS Gullwing. Here's hoping...

LAST MINUTE GIFTS - By: Betsy Wexler

If you are reading this, you are probably among the many men that wait until the last minute to shop for your loved one for Valentine's day. I used to work in a card and gift shop, and I think we saw more men in the store on Valentine's day than collectively the rest of the year. So know, you are not alone!

But now you're probably feeling a little panicked…what do I do? Can I still get a reservation for dinner? Should I go with flowers, or candy, or both? How can I make this look like I didn't wait until today at 2pm??

Here is a big newsflash…not all women want expensive jewelry. Most women just want to know you are thinking about them. A little thought goes a long way. The good news is, it doesn't have to cost you a lot of money. The bad news: you ARE going to actually have to think about it! Here are some ideas to help get you started:

1. What does your gal like to do? What is she interested in? Gift items relating to interest show you care AND you know her well. You can relate it to her job, her hobbies, her interests, her pet. A good example of this is books. You can get a serious book, about cats or gardening or wine, whatever interests her. Funny books are also good, of course still in her area of interest. BE CAREFUL! There are some things that are NOT meant to be joked about, and if you buy a funny book about it, it will be worse than if you got her nothing! Sisters, female friends, and female co-workers are good consultants in this area. (Try to avoid involving Mom in this at any cost. Don't go looking for trouble where there isn't any!)

2. It might be a little late for this, but planning a fun night out is a great idea. Dinner and then ice skating, for instance. Or going to listen to live music. (you can find a lot of fun and interesting things to do on this very website!) Doing something enjoyable, but that you don't normally do, makes it special.

3. It may be too late for a restaurant…but you can score BIG points by bringing her a picnic! Wine, cheese, bread, fruit, and chocolate eaten off a tablecloth in her living room are very romantic. You could even buy a lapthrow for her sofa and use it as the tablecloth…and cuddle under it later!

4. Bring a video over, a movie you know SHE will like, even if it will kill you to watch "Sweet November" or "America's Sweethearts". (there are bonus points to be earned by combining this with the picnic…and you can snuggle under the new lapthrow while watching the movie.)

5. I've yet to meet a woman who wouldn't swoon over a gift certificate to a salon or day spa. You can get them for a particular service, like a pedicure or massage, or packages, or just an amount of money and they can choose a la carte services. It is a wonderfully pampering gift. In this same category are candles, scented essential oil, relaxing CD's, and bath salts and oils. Life is stressful, and having your guy give you a gift that helps you relax shows that he cares.

6.Last, but not necessarily least, flowers and candy are in fact thoughtful gifts to show you care. If you are really in a pinch, or don't care to stand out in the crowd, then go for it! Good luck guys!!!

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