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HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FROM Indiana Pocket Pets

Valentine's Day Fast Facts

HISTORY

Every February 14th, 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.



THE LEGEND OF CUPID

Once there was only Darkness and Chaos. Out of Darkness came Eros, the name for love in ancient times. When Eros and Chaos met they created a family. Their children were the ocean, earth, air, and all creatures including people.

Eros became known to people as the spirit of love. Later in ancient Rome, Eros was called Cupid.

Some people say when they fall in love, they actually feel their hearts flutter as though they had been struck with a love potion carried on a tiny invisible arrow. So the story of Cupid was expanded to say he had a small bow and a quiver of invisible gold-tipped arrows covered in magic love potions. When Cupid was drawn, he was made small to match the size of his bow and arrows. Wings were added so he could fly anywhere he wanted. Cupid was said to be childlike and innocent, knowing only true love. So the picture of Cupid was an almost naked, chubby child with wings, a bow, and a quiver full of love arrows flying overhead looking for hearts to shoot full of love.

In Roman mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido) is the god of erotic love. He is equated with the Greek God Eros and another one of his Latin names Amor (cognate with Kama).

There are differing stories about Cupid's parentage. Cicero provides three different lineages: son of Mercury (Hermes) and Diana (Artemis), son of Mercury and Venus (Aphrodite), and son of Mars (Ares in Greek mythology) and Venus. Plato mentions two of these, and Hesiod's Theogony, the most ancient Greek theoography, says that Cupid was created coevally with Chaos and the earth.

Throughout ancient mythological writing, there appear to be either two Cupids or two sides to the figure of Cupid. One is the son of Jupiter (Zeus) and Venus. He is a lively youth who delights in pranks and spreading love. The other is a son of Nyx and Erebus, known for riotous debauchery.

Cupid's cult was closely associated with that of Venus, with Cupid being worshipped as devotedly as she. Additionally, Cupid's power was supposed to be even greater than his mother's, since he had dominion over the dead in Hades, the creatures of the sea and the gods in Olympus. Some of the cults of Cupid suggested that Cupid as son of Night and Hell mated with Chaos to produce both men and gods, making the gods the offspring of love.

In painting and sculpture, Cupid is often portrayed as a nude winged boy armed with a bow and a quiver of arrows.The Hindu Kama also has a very similar description.The traditional Christian depiction of a cherub is based on him. On gems and other surviving pieces, he is usually shown amusing himself with childhood play, sometimes driving a hoop, throwing darts, catching a butterfly, or flirting with a nymph. He is often depicted with his mother (in graphic arts, this is nearly always Venus), playing a horn. He is also shown wearing a helmet and carrying a buckler, perhaps in reference to Virgil's Omnia vincit amor or as political satire on wars for love or love as war.

Cupid figures prominently in ariel poetry, lyrics and, of course, elegiac love and metamorphic poetry. In epic poetry, he is less often invoked, but he does appear in Virgil's Aeneid changed into the shape of Ascanius inspiring Dido's love. In later literature, Cupid is frequently invoked as fickle, playful, and perverse. He is often depicted as carrying two sets of arrows: one set gold-headed, which inspire love; and the other lead-headed, which inspire hatred.

The best-known story involving Cupid is the tale of Cupid and Psyche.



FEBRUARY FERTILITY FESTIVALS

The association of the middle of February with love and fertility dates to ancient times. On the ancient Athens calendar, the period between mid-January and mid-February was the month of Gamelion, dedicated to the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera.

In Ancient Rome, February 15 was Lupercalia. Plutarch wrote:

Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

The word Lupercalia comes from lupus, or wolf, so the holiday may be connected with the legendary wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome. The more general Festival of Juno Februa, meaning "Juno the purifier" or "the chaste Juno," was celebrated on February 13-14. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia. Some historians argue that Candlemas (then held on February 14, later moved to February 2) was promoted as its replacement, but this feast was already being celebrated in Jerusalem by AD 381. The pope also declared in 496 that the feast of St. Valentine would be on February 14.



VALENTINE'S DAY IN OTHER CULTURES

Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine's Day has emerged in Japan and Korea as a day on which women, and less commonly men, give candy, chocolate or flowers to people they like. This has become an obligation for many women. Those who work in offices end up giving chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense. This chocolate is known as giri-choko (義理チョコ), in Japan, from the words giri (obligation) and choko, a common short version of chokorēto (チョコレート), meaning chocolate. This contrasts with honmei-choko, which is given to a person someone loves or has a strong relationship with. Friends, especially girls, exchange chocolate that is referred to as tomo-choko (友チョコ); tomo means friend in Japanese.

By a further marketing effort, a reciprocal day called White Day has emerged. On March 14, men are expected to return the favour to those who gave them chocolates on Valentine's Day. Many men, however, give only to their girlfriends. Originally, the return gift was supposed to be white chocolate or marshmallows; hence "White Day". However, men have taken the name to a different meaning and lingerie has become a common gift.

In Korea, there is an additional Black Day on April 14, when males who did not receive anything for Valentine's Day gather together to eat Jajangmyun (Chinese-style noodles in black sauce). In South Korea, there is also Pepero Day, celebrated on November 11, during which young couples give each other romantic gifts.

In Chinese Culture, there is a similar counterpart of the Valentine's Day. It is called "The Night of Sevens", on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar; the last one being August 30, 2006. A slightly different version of this day is celebrated in Japan as Tanabata, on July 7th on the solar calendar. There is another Chinese version of Valentine's Day on the 15th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar. This is also the 'Last Day of Chinese New Year' where Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year for as long as 15 days. During that day, girls traditionally write their name and address on a mandarin orange, and modern people will write their name, address, cellphone number and also e-mail and finally throw it onto a river to seek for a future lover. Boys will seek for these oranges to find their future lover. This tradition is still kept today.

In Persian Culture (Iran) this popular date is discreetly celebrated by most lovers despite the disapproval of such occasion by the hardline Islamic government as a copycat of the West.

According to Jewish tradition the 15th day of the month of Av - Tu B'Av (usually late August) is the festival of love (hag haahava). In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting for them (Mishna Taanith end of Chapter 4). In modern Israeli culture this is a popular day to pronounce love, propose marriage and give gifts like cards or flowers.

In Brazil, there is no Valentine's Day. Instead, "Dia dos Namorados" (lit. "Day of the enamored", or "Boyfriend's/Girlfriend's Day") is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts such as lingerie, chocolates, cards and usually a flower bouquet. This day is chosen probably because it is the day before the Saint Anthony's day, known there as the marriage saint, when many single women perform popular rituals in order to find a good husband (or nowadays, a boyfriend).

In Colombia, the "Día del amor y la amistad" (lit. "Love and Friendship Day") is celebrated on the third Friday and Saturday in September, because of commercial issues. In this country the Amigo secreto ("Secret friend") tradition is quite popular, which consists of randomly assigning to each participant a recipient who is to be given an anonymous gift (similar to the Christmas tradition of Secret Santa).

In Mexico, the "Día del amor y la amistad" is celebrated similar to Colombia but this one falls on February 14.

In Finland, Valentine's Day is called "Ystävänpäivä" which translates into Friend's day. As the name says the day is more about remembering your friends than your loved ones.

In Slovenia, a proverb says that St Valentine brings the keys of roots so on 14th February plants and flowers start to grow. Valentine's Day has been celebrated as the day when the first works in the vineyards and on the fields commence. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Nevertheless, it has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love is traditionally 12 March, the Saint Gregory's day. Another proverb says "Valentin - prvi spomladin" (Valentine — first saint of spring), as in some places (especially White Carniola) Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.

In Romania, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia. Part of his name is the word "drag" (dear), which can also be found in the word "dragoste" (love). In recent years, Romania has also started celebrating Valentine's Day, despite already having Dragobete as a traditional holiday. This has drawn backlash from many groups, particularly nationalist organizations like Noua Dreaptǎ, who condemn Valentine's Day for being superficial, commercialist and imported Western kitsch.

In Norway, Valentines Day is known as "Valentinsdagen". It is not celebrated to a large extent, but some people take time to be romantic with their partner, or send a card to a secret love.

Valentines Day also has regional traditions in the UK. In Norfolk a character called 'Jack' Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although leavings treats, many children were scared of this mystical person



SAINT VALENTINE

Saint Valentine or Saint Valentinus refers to one of at least three martyred saints of ancient Rome. The feast of Saint Valentine was formerly celebrated on February 14 by the Roman Catholic Church until the revised calendar 1969.

His birth date and birthplace are unknown.

The feast of St. Valentine was first decreed in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." The creation of the feast for such dimly conceived figures may have been an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia that was still being celebrated in 5th century Rome, on February 15.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the saint whose feast was celebrated on the day now known as St. Valentine's Day was possibly one of the three martyred men who lived in the late 3rd century during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (died 270):

a priest in Rome
a bishop of Interamna (modern Terni)
a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
It is believed that the priest and the bishop Valentinus are each buried along the Via Flaminia outside Rome, at different lengths from the city. In the 12th century, the Roman city gate known in ancient times as the Porta Flaminia (now known as the Porta del Popolo) was known as the Gate of St. Valentine.

While Gelasius stated his ignorance about the saint's life, the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints and for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on the occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine, has him refusing to deny Christ before the "Emperor Claudius" in the year 280. Before his head was struck off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine", "as containing valour".

The Legenda Aurea does not contain anything about hearts and last notes signed "from your Valentine", as is sometimes suggested in modern works of sentimental piety [1]. Many of the current legends surrounding them appear in the late Middle Ages in France and England, when the feast day of February 14 became associated with romantic love.

In 1836, relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina near Rome, were identified with St Valentine, placed in a golden casket and transported to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland, to which they were donated by Pope Gregory XVI. Many tourists visit the saintly remains on St. Valentine's Day, when the casket is carried in solemn procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love. Alleged bodily relics of St Valentine also lie at the reliquary of Roquemaure in France, in the Stephansdom in Vienna and also in Blessed St. John Duns Scotus church in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Scotland.

The saint's feast day was removed from the Church calendar in 1969 as part of a broader effort to remove saints viewed by some as being of purely legendary origin. The feast day is still celebrated locally in some parishes such as Balzan in Malta where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, as well as by those Catholics who follow the older, pre-Vatican II calendar. Prior to this action, the church in Rome that had been dedicated to him observed his feast day by, among other things, displaying his reputed skull surrounded by roses, much like the iconography often used by the Grateful Dead.

from Wikipedia.org



VALENTINE'S DAY RECIPES

Aunt Runner's Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
Red food coloring
Place butter, sugar and cream in work bowl of food processor; process 5 minutes or until light and fluffy, stopping machine frequently to scrap sides. Transfer to medium mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed 15 to 20 minutes or until light and fluffy. Reserve 3/4 cup white buttercream for piping. Stir red food coloring, a few drops at a time, into remaining buttercream until pink.



CHERRY CHEESECAKE DELIGHT
CRUST
2 cups SnackWells Cinnamon snacks, crushed
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
TOPPING
21 fl.oz. canned cherry pie filling
1 1.5 oz. packet of whipped topping, non-dairy
3 Tbsp. Grape-Nuts cereal
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1/4 tea salt
3 TBL cocoa
2 tea soda
'Cream the sugar, Mayo and eggs. Add the vanilla and warm water. Mix the dry ingredients and add to the above mix. Mix well and bake in a 9X13 pan at 350* for 18 to 25 minutes or done.

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 Tbsp. cooking oil
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate Frosting (below)
Tube of pink decorator icing (optional)
Grease and lightly flour an 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Make a well in center. Stir together water, oil vinegar and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients; beat with wire wisk or wooden spoon until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool cake on rack. Transfer cake to cutting board. Using a 3 1/4" heart shaped (cookie) cutter, cut 4 heart-shaped pieces from cake. Spread Chocolate Frosting (below) on tops of all heart shaped pieces. Stack two hearts on top of remaining hearts. Decorate with decorator icing, if desired. Makes 2 cakes (2-4 servings). Chocolate Frosting:
Stir together 1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine and 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder until smooth. Add 2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar. Stir in 1/4 tsp. vanilla and enough milk (2 to 3 tsp.) to make of spreading consistency, beating with wire whisk or wooden spoon until smooth.



Cinnamon Love Knots
2 pkgs. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
TOPPING:
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add milk, butter, sugar, eggs and salt. Stir in enough flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 min. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Cover two with plastic wrap. Shape one portion into 12 balls. Roll each ball into an 8 inch rope. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip rope into melted butter, then coat with cinnamon-sugar. Tie rope into a knot. Tuck and pinch ends under and place on ungreased baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 3 doz.



Hearts in a Frame
For a heart-felt Valentine Brunch!
1 (10 3/4 oz.) Sara Lee Pound Cake, frozen
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon minced fresh
or 2 teaspoons dried chives
Pinch of paprika
1 seedless medium orange,
peeled and thinly sliced, for garnish
Cut pound cake horizontally in half; return one half to freezer. Cut remaining half vertically into 2 equal-size slices. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, approximately 1 1/2-inches in diameter, cut out a heart in the middle of each cake slice; set aside. In a deep, medium bowl, beat egg whites and spices together until frothy. Place cake slices and heart-shaped cut-outs in a heated skillet coated with non-stick vegetable oil cooking spray. Fill the hole in the cake slices with egg white mixture; cover and cook over low heat until egg white in each is firm. Turn over cake slices and heart shapes; continue to brown lightly, about 1 minute. Garnish each serving with orange slices and serve with herbal tea. 2 servings.



Pink Passion Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter,
softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon EACH: baking powder,
baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dairy sour cream,
at room temperature
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Add yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add egg; mix well. Resift flour into small bowl with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until smooth. Spread evenly in buttered 9-inch heart-shaped pan.* Bake about 35 minutes or until golden and top springs back when lightly touched and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut cake horizontally into two layers. Place one layer on serving plate. Spread strawberry preserves evenly over top; spread pink Aunt Runner's Buttercream (see recipe below) over preserves. Place remaining cake layer on top. Frost top and sides with pink Rosie's Buttercream. Spoon white Aunt Runner's Buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with desired decorating tip; pipe icing decorations onto cake as desired. *One 8-inch round baking pan may be substituted for heart-shaped pan.



Secret Kiss Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
sifted powdered sugar
1 pkg. Hershey Kisses, foil removed
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla with 1 Tbsp. water. Stir in flour and nuts; mix well. Shape dough around hershey kisses forming a ball. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on rack; roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 60 cookies.



Valentine Cake Roll
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup milk
powdered sugar
3/4 cup marshmallow topping
1/2 cup Cool Whip
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15 1/2 inch x 10 1/2 inch jelly roll pan with wax paper. In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, whisk together sugar, apple sauce, milk, egg whites and vanilla. Add flour mixture to apple sauce mixture; stir until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert onto clean, lint free dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar; peel off waxed paper. Trim edges of cake. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake and towel together. Cool completely on wire rack. In small bowl, whisk marshmallow topping until softened. Gently fold in whipped topping. Unroll cake; spread with marshmallow mixture to within 1/2 inch of edges of cake. Sprinkle nuts over marshmallow mixture. Reroll cake; place, seam side down, on serving plate. Cover; refrigerate one hour before slicing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate left overs.



CRAFT IDEAS FOR KIDS

Puzzles - Trace heart shape onto heavy paper (i.e. poster board) for each student. Instruct students to write a Valentine's sentiment neatly on heart shape. (Encourage creativity.) When messages have been written, instruct students to cut out heart shapes. Students should then outline puzzle pieces onto reverse side of heart, then proceed to cut these out. Upon completion, each heart's pieces should be stored in a separate bag. Exchange bags. Allow students to piece together puzzles and read messages.

Bracelets - Cut a 1"-wide strip of pink construction paper long enough to fit around a child's arm. Cut three hearts out red construction paper. On each of the hearts, print one word of a Valentine message ("I love you" or "Be my Valentine" or "Happy Valentine's Day"). Let the children put the words in order to form a phrase, then paste them in the correct order onto their bracelet strips. Add other decorations as desired. Tape the completed bracelets on children's arms for take-home Valentine's treats.



AMERICAN VALENTINE'S DAY CARD TRADITIONS

In America there have been many different forms of cards given on Valentine's day over the years. Many of these may not have been nice as there were cards that were often rude and almost cruel in their humor, But, there were many that were intricate and a lot of thought that went into them.

There were cards in the times of the civil war that were flagged with rich color, patriotic and political motifs. There were ones that showed lovers, their heroes and generals, skits and comical.

There were cards also not in the best of tastes that some men would send to former loves or people they wanted to get back at for some reason or another. These cards were sent to cause discomfort and might say things such as "boss-eyed" or other similar phrases.

There were many Valentines that were especially lithographed and hand-colored, beautiful in there design and that had a distinction of there own. Many cards were imported from overseas due to the paper being of poor quality and not suitable for embossing.

There were many cards that were produced with intricate lace paper, decorated with ornaments such as beads, sea shells, cones, berries, and all different kinds of seeds. Some may even have seaweed or moss with dried flowers or artificial flowers which was all attached to a string so as it could be hung creating a three dimensional picture.



ROSES AND THEIR MEANING

A Rose is a flowering shrub of the genus Rosa, and the flower of this shrub. There are more than a hundred species of wild roses, all from the northern hemisphere and mostly from temperate regions. The species form a group of generally prickly shrubs or climbers, and sometimes trailing plants, reaching 2–5 m tall, rarely reaching as high as 20 m by climbing over other plants.

The name originates from Latin rosa, borrowed through Oscan from colonial Greek in southern Italy: rhodon (Aeolic form: wrodon), from Aramaic wurrdā, from Assyrian wurtinnu, from Old Iranian *warda (cf. Avestan warda, Sogdian ward, Parthian wâr).

The leaves of most species are 5–15 cm long, pinnate, with (3–) 5–9 (–13) leaflets and basal stipules; the leaflets usually have a serrated margin, and often a few small prickles on the underside of the stem. The vast majority of roses are deciduous, but a few (particularly in southeast Asia) are evergreen or nearly so.

The flowers of most species roses have five petals with the exception of Rosa sericea which often has only four. Each petal is divided into two distinct lobes and are usually white or pink, though in a few species yellow or red. Beneath the petals are five sepals (or in the case of some Rosa sericea, four). These may be long enough to be visible when viewed from above and appear as green points alternating with the rounded petals. The ovary is inferior, developing below the petals and sepals.

The aggregate fruit of the rose is a berry-like structure called a rose hip. Rose species that produce open-faced flowers are attractive to pollinating bees and other insects, thus more apt to produce hips. Many of the domestic cultivars are so tightly petalled that they do not provide access for pollination. The hips of most species are red, but a few (e.g. Rosa pimpinellifolia) have dark purple to black hips. Each hip comprises an outer fleshy layer, the hypanthium, which contains 5–160 "seeds" (technically dry single-seeded fruits called achenes) embedded in a matrix of fine, but stiff, hairs. Rose hips of some species, especially the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa), are very rich in vitamin C, among the richest sources of any plant. The hips are eaten by fruit-eating birds such as thrushes and waxwings, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some birds, particularly finches, also eat the seeds.

While the sharp objects along a rose stem are commonly called "thorns", they are actually prickles – outgrowths of the epidermis (the outer layer of tissue of the stem). True thorns, as produced by e.g. Citrus or Pyracantha, are modified stems, which always originate at a node and which have nodes and internodes along the length of the thorn itself. Rose prickles are typically sickle-shaped hooks, which aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation when growing over it. Some species such as Rosa rugosa and R. pimpinellifolia have densely packed straight spines, probably an adaptation to reduce browsing by animals, but also possibly an adaptation to trap wind-blown sand and so reduce erosion and protect their roots (both of these species grow naturally on coastal sand dunes). Despite the presence of prickles, roses are frequently browsed by deer. A few species of roses only have vestigial prickles that have no points.

Roses are one of the most popular garden shrubs and are also among the most common flowers sold by florists. Roses are of great economic importance both as a crop for florists' use and for use in perfume.

Many thousands of rose hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected for garden use, mostly double-flowered with many or all of the stamens mutated into additional petals. As long ago as 1840 a collection numbering over one thousand different cultivars, varieties and species was possible when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England. Twentieth-century rose breeders generally emphasized size and color, producing large, attractive blooms with little or no scent. Many wild and "old-fashioned" roses, by contrast, have a strong sweet scent.

Roses thrive in temperate climates, though certain species and cultivars can flourish in sub-tropical and even tropical climates, especially when grafted onto appropriate root-stock.

There is no single system of classification for garden roses. In general, however, roses are placed in one of three main groups:

Wild Roses - The wild roses includes the species listed above and some of their hybrids.

Old Garden Roses - Most old garden roses are classified into one of the following (ordered by approximate age - oldest first):

Alba - Literally "white roses", derived from R. arvensis and the closely allied R. alba. These are some of the oldest garden roses, probably brought to Great Britain by the Romans. Once-flowering. Examples: 'Semi-plena', 'White Rose of York'.

Gallica - The Gallica roses have been developed from R. gallica which is a native of central and southern Europe. They flower once in the summer. Examples: 'Cardinal de Richelieu', 'Charles de Mills', 'Rosa Mundi' (R. gallica versicolor).

Damask - Robert de Brie is given credit for bringing them from Persia to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. Summer Damasks (crosses between Gallica roses and R. phoenicea) bloom once in summer. Autumn Damasks (Gallicas crossed with R. moschata) bloom later, in the autumn. Examples: 'Ispahan', 'Madame Hardy'.

Centifolia (or Provence) - These roses, raised in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands, are named for their "one hundred" petals. Once-flowering. Examples: 'Centifolia', 'Paul Ricault'.

Moss - Closely related to the centifolias, these have a mossy excrescence on the stems and sepals. Once-flowering. Example: 'Comtesse de Murinais', 'Old Pink Moss'.

China - The China roses brought with them an amazing ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the summer and into late autumn. Four China roses ('Slater's Crimson China', 1792; 'Parsons' Pink China', 1793; 'Hume's Blush China', 1809; and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China', 1824) were brought to Europe in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which brought about the creation of the repeat flowering old garden roses and later the modern garden roses. Examples: 'Old Blush China', 'Mutabilis'.

Portland - These are named after the Duchess of Portland who received (from Italy in 1800) a rose then known as R. paestana or 'Scarlet Four Seasons' Rose' (now known simply as 'The Portland Rose'). This group was developed from that rose. Repeat-flowering. Example: 'James Veitch', 'Rose de Rescht', 'The Portland Rose'.

Bourbon - They originated on l'Île de Bourbon (now called Réunion). Probably the result of a cross between the Autumn Damask and the 'Old Blush China'. Introduced in France in 1823. Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Louise Odier', 'Mme. Pierre Oger', 'Zéphirine Drouhin'.

Hybrid Perpetual - The dominant class of roses in Victorian England, they were derived to a great extent from the Bourbons. Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Ferdinand Pichard', 'Reine Des Violettes'.

Tea - The result of crossing two of the original China Roses ('Hume's Blush China' and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China') with various Bourbons and Noisette roses. Somewhat more tender than other old garden roses (most likely because of R. gigantea in the ancestry of the Parks rose), teas are repeat-flowering roses although their fragrance is not always a tea scent. Example: 'Lady Hillingdon'.

Bermuda "Mystery" Roses - A group of several dozen "found" roses that have been grown in Bermuda for at least a century. The roses have significant value and interest for those growing roses in tropical and semi-tropical regions, since they are highly resistant to both nematode damage and the fungal diseases that plague rose culture in hot, humid areas, and capable of blooming in hot and humid weather. Most of these roses are likely Old Garden Rose cultivars that have otherwise dropped out of cultivation, or sports thereof. They are "mystery roses" because their "proper" historical names have been lost. Tradition dictates that they are named after the owner of the garden where they were rediscovered.

Miscellaneous - There are also a few smaller classes (such as Scots, Sweet Brier) and some climbing classes of old roses (including Ayrshire, Climbing China, Laevigata, Sempervirens, Noisette, Boursault, Climbing Tea, and Climbing Bourbon). Those classes with both climbing and shrub forms are often grouped together.

Modern Garden Roses - Classification of modern roses can be quite confusing because many modern roses have old garden roses in their ancestry and their form varies so much. The classifications tend to be by growth and flowering characteristics, such as "large-flowered shrub", "recurrent, large-flowered shrub", "cluster-flowered", "rambler recurrent", or "ground-cover non-recurrent".

Many of the most popular modern cultivars can however be assigned to one of these two groups:

Hybrid Tea - The favourite florist's rose, with typically one to at most five or six large flowers per stem, the flower with numerous tightly arranged petals with reflexed tips. They are favoured in small gardens in formal situations, and for buttonhole roses. Examples: 'Peace', 'Mr. Lincoln'

Floribunda - Flowers often smaller, in large clusters of ten or more (often many more) on each stem. These tend to give a more prominent display from a distance, so are more often used in large bedding schemes in public parks and similar spaces. Examples: 'Dainty Maid', 'Iceberg', 'Tuscan Sun'.

The rose has always been valued for its beauty and fragrance and has a long history of symbolism and meaning. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love (Aphrodite and Venus). In Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or "under the rose", means to keep a secret—derived from this ancient Roman practice.

Early Christians identified the five petals of the rose with the five wounds of Christ. Despite this interpretation, their leaders were hesitant to adopt it because of its association with Roman excesses and pagan ritual. The red rose was eventually adopted as a symbol of the blood of the Christian martyrs. Roses also later came to be associated with the Virgin Mary.

Rose culture came into its own in Europe in the 1800s with the introduction of perpetual blooming roses from China. There are currently thousands of varieties of roses developed for bloom shape, size, fragrance and even for lack of prickles.

Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses (including Isis and Aphrodite), and is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Roses are so important that the word means pink or red in a variety of languages (such as Romance languages, Greek, and Polish).

The rose is the national flower of England and the United States, as well as being the symbol of England Rugby, and of the Rugby Football Union. It is also the provincial flower of Yorkshire and Lancashire in England (the white rose and red rose respectively) and of Alberta (the wild rose), and the state flower of four US states: Iowa and North Dakota (R. arkansana), Georgia (R. laevigata), and New York (Rosa generally). Portland, Oregon counts "City of Roses" among its nicknames, and holds an annual Rose Festival.

Roses are occasionally the basis of design for rose windows, such windows comprising five or ten segments (the five petals and five sepals of a rose) or multiples thereof; however most Gothic rose windows are much more elaborate and were probably based originally on the wheel and other symbolism.

A red rose (often held in a hand) is also a symbol of socialism or social democracy; it is also used as a symbol by the British and Irish Labour Parties, as well as by the French, Spanish (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian, Dutch (Partij van de Arbeid) and European socialist parties. This originates from the red rose used as a badge by the marchers in the May 1968 street protests in Paris. White Rose was a World War II non-violent resistance group in Germany.

Victorian symbolism: The meaning of Roses: Yellow rose: symbolising dying love

Red Rose: Deepest Love and Respect. According to the Victorian "Language of flowers", different colored roses each have their own symbolic meaning:

Red: love

Pink: grace, gentle feelings of love

Dark Pink: gratitude

Light Pink: admiration, sympathy

White: innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility.

Yellow: Yellow roses generally mean dying love or platonic love. In German-speaking countries, however, they can mean jealousy and infidelity.

Yellow with red tips: Friendship, falling in love

Orange: passion

Burgundy: beauty

Blue: mystery

Green: calm

Black: slavish devotion (as a true black rose is impossible to produce)

Purple: protection (paternal/maternal love)

Superstitions Surrounding Roses:

In some pagan mythologies, no undead or ghostly creatures (particularly vampires) may cross the path of a wild rose. It was thought that to place a wild rose on a coffin of a recently deceased person would prevent them from rising again.

Since the earliest times, the rose has been an emblem of silence: In Greek Mythology, Eros presents a rose to the god of silence.

In a Celtic folk legend, a wandering, screaming spirit was silenced by presenting the spirit with a wild rose every new moon.

Roses were used in very early times as a very potent ingredient in love philters.

In Rome it was often customary to bless roses on "Rose Sunday". In Scotland, if a white rose bloomed in autumn it was a token of an early marriage.

The red rose, it is believed by many religions, cannot grow over a grave.

Rose leaves thrown into a burning flame are said to give good luck.

If a maiden had more than one lover, it is believed in one mythology, she should take rose leaves and write the names of her lovers upon them before casting them into the wind. The last leaf to reach the ground would bear the name of the lover whom she should marry.

It is believed that if a rose bush were pruned on St. John's Eve, it would be guaranteed to bloom in the autumn.

Roses symbolize both peace and war, love and forgiveness.



INTERESTING VALENTINE TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITIONS

- Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on St. Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:
Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

- In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

- Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.

- Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.

- If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children you will have.

- A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide dress. Later, the love seat or courting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not too closely!

- Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.

- Some people said if you found a glove on the road on Valentine's Day, your future beloved will have the other missing glove.

- Some believed the first man's name you read in the paper or hear will be the name of the man you will marry.



VALENTINE'S DAY GRAPHICS

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COURTSHIP AND DATING

Courtship is the process of selecting and attracting another for an intimate relationship such as love, sex, commitment, living together, marriage, and having children, or any combination of these. Courtship may last days, months, or even years, but some lovers skip courting altogether as in cases of love at first sight or arranged marriage.

Many couples stop courting or going out after they have chosen to remain together, or after they have married, or after they have children. Those that do still may still call these outings "dates".

Literally, dating means the act of going out on dates. In Western societies, a date is an occasion when one socializes with a potential lover or spouse: it is a pre-scheduled, usually exclusive meeting of two people with mutual interest in one another, to communicate with and to understand each other better through joint participation in one or more social activities during time away from work or school. In this sense, the purpose of a date is for the people dating to become acquainted with each other and decide whether they want to have a serious relationship.

Dating often begins at the teenage age, but younger children may date as well. Double-dating, when two potential couples go out on a joint-date, is particularly popular with young people. There may be even larger "group dates" in some cases.

During dates, people often explore each other's personalities, to discover whether or not they would be compatible together in a relationship. Usually, if the two individuals discover that they have poor or low compatibility, it signals the end of the relationship and there will be no "second date," and often no further communication at all.

Personal information often sought on dates include:
  • Attitudes
  • Appearance
  • Character and integrity
  • Direction and stages of personal growth
  • Expectations
  • Family, class, cultural and social background
  • Age difference and geographical distance
  • Habits
  • Health
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Maturity
  • Personal philosophy
  • Political views
  • Preferences
  • Priorities
  • Religious views
  • Sense of humor
  • Views on sex, marriage and child-bearing
  • Ways of communication
  • Wealth or financial situation
For dates, a person usually tries to display his or her best qualities, and be on his or her best behavior, or do whatever they think is needed to attract the other person, like dress up nicely and maybe use perfume or cologne.

While a date is going out to do something together (like having dinner and then visiting the theatre, or having a picnic at a park or on the beach), courting may continue to take place between dates, such as meeting online (also known as virtual dating), chatting on-line, sending text messages or picture messages, conversing over the phone, writing each other letters, and sending each other flowers, poems, songs and gifts, for instance.

During the early- and mid-20th century (1920s to 1960s), dating was considered to be a social pastime in which most single young people would participate. After the advent of women's movement, the men's movement, the sexual revolution, and other movements that have shaped modern Western culture, this "old-fashioned" form of dating waned in popularity, giving way to what became known as "hanging out" and "hooking up". Formal dating, where one person (usually the male) contacts another person (usually the female) to arrange a date gave way to more casual encounters, including casual sexual encounters.

Many people are now expressing a lack of satisfaction with this way of doing things. The popularity of online dating services is seen by some to indicate a growing desire among singles to meet for "traditional" one-on-one dates, and to date socially, without necessarily having the expectation of either a sexual relationship or a long-term romantic relationship.

In recent years, a surprising number of college newspapers also have featured editorials where students decry the lack of "dating" on their campuses. This may be a result of a highly-publicized 2001 study sponsored by the conservative American women's group Independent Women's Forum called Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right: College Women on Dating and Mating Today, and the ensuing IWF-sponsored campaign called Take Back the Date, which promotes "traditional" dating.

While the date is fairly casual in most Westernized cultures, in many traditional societies, courtship is a highly structured activity, with very specific formal rules.

In some societies, the parents or community propose potential partners, and then allow limited dating to determine whether the parties are suited.

In Japan, there is a type of courtship called Omiai. Parents will hire a matchmaker to provide pictures and résumés of potential mates, and if the couple agrees, there will be a formal meeting with the matchmaker and often parents in attendance. The matchmaker and parents will often exert pressure on the couple to decide whether they want to marry or not after only a few dates.

In some cultures, courtship is eliminated altogether by the practice of arranged marriages, where partners are chosen for young people, typically by their parents. Very conservative cultures may view "dating" as nothing more than a synonym for "having premarital sex," which they prohibit, particularly for women. Forbidding experimental and serial courtship and sanctioning only arranged matches is partly a means of guarding the chastity of young people and partly a matter of furthering family interests, which in such cultures may be considered more important than individual romantic preferences.

Commericial Dating Services

Though most people meet their dates at social organizations, in their daily life, or are introduced through friends or relatives, commercial dating agencies emerged strongly, but discreetly, in the Western world after World War II, mostly catering for the 25–44 age group. Newspaper and magazine personal ads also became common.

In the last several years, mate-finding and courtship have seen changes due to online dating services. Telecommunications and computer technologies have developed rapidly since around 1995, allowing daters the use of home telephones with answering machines, mobile phones, and web-based systems to find prospective partners. "Pre-dates" can take place by telephone or online via instant messaging, e-mail, or even video communication. A disadvantage is that, with no initial personal interview by a traditional dating agency head, Internet daters are free to exaggerate or lie about their characteristics.

While the growing popularity of the Internet took some time, now one in five singles is said to look for love on the Web, which has led to a dramatic shift in dating patterns. Research in the United Kingdom suggests that as of 2004 there were around 150 agencies there, and the market was growing at around 20 percent a year due to, first, the very low entry barriers to setting up a dating site, and secondly, the rising number of single people. However, even academic researchers find it impossible to find precise figures about crucial statistics, such as the ratio of active daters to the large number of inactive members whom the agency will often wrongly claim as potential partners, and the overall ratio of men to women in an agency's membership. Academic research on traditional pre-Internet agencies suggests that most agencies have far more men than women in their membership. [citation needed]

Traditionally, in many societies (including Western societies), men were expected to fill the role of the pursuer. However, the anonymity of the Internet (as well as other factors) has allowed women to take on that role online. A recent study indicated that "women pay to contact men as often as the reverse, which is quite different from behavior in telephone-based dating system[s]" (from Wired magazine).

The trend of singles making a Web connection continues to increase, as the percentage of North American singles who have tried Internet dating has grown from two percent in 1999 to over ten percent today (from Canadian Business, February 2002). More than half of online consumers (53%) know someone who has started a friendship or relationship online, and three-quarters of 18-to-24-year-old online consumers (74%) say they do. There is also some academic evidence that the 18–25 age group has significantly taken up online dating. This growing trend is reflected in the surging popularity of online communities such as Faceparty, Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, and Nexopia sites which are not directly geared toward dating, but many users nonetheless use to find potential dates or research a new acquaintance to check for availability and compatibility.

There is still plenty of room for traditional matchmakers to thrive, however, and only time will tell which industry wins out in the end.

The Blind Date

A blind date is a date between two people who have never met and typically know little or nothing about each other. Blind dates are generally arranged by a third party, usually a friend of one or both daters, either to bring together people the third party thinks might be compatible, but who might otherwise never meet, or because one or both of the daters has specifically expressed an interest in a blind date. Alternatively the match may have been made by a dating system.

Blind dates have become more commonplace following the rise of the Internet, when people who have met in chatrooms or fora finally agree to meet in person. Afterwards, they are going to a place where they can have a time to talk and to know each other.




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SPEED DATING

Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process or dating system (a variant of a meeting system) whose purpose is to encourage people to meet a large number of new people. Its origins are credited to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish HaTorah, as a way to ensure that more Jewish singles met each other in large cities where they were outnumbered by non-Jews. "SpeedDating", as a single word, is a registered trademark of Aish HaTorah. "Speed dating", as two separate words, is often used as a generic term for similar events.

The first speed-dating event took place at Pete’s Café in Beverly Hills in late 1998.[1] Soon afterward, several commercial services began offering similar events across the United States. By 2000, speed dating had really taken off, perhaps boosted by its portrayal in shows such as Sex and the City as something that glamourous people did. Supporters argue that speed dating saves time, as most people decide if they are romantically compatible very quickly, and first impressions are often permanent.



SADIE HAWKINS DAY

Sadie Hawkins Day was a day-long event in Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner observed in the United States on the Saturday that follows November 9, named after Sadie Hawkins, "the homeliest gal in all them hills." Each year on Sadie Hawkins Day, the unmarried women of Dogpatch pursued the single men. If a woman caught a man and dragged him back to the starting line by sundown, he had to marry her.

Sadie Hawkins was the daughter of one of Dogpatch's earliest settlers, Hekzebiah Hawkins. When she reached the age of 35, still a spinster, her father in desperation called together the eligible bachelors of Dogpatch and declared that day to be Sadie Hawkins Day and that "when ah fires [my gun] all o' yo' start a-runnin! When ah fires agin - after givin' yo' a fair start - Sadie starts a runnin'. Th' one she ketches'll be her husband."

The town spinsters decided that this was such a good idea, they made Sadie Hawkins Day an annual event, much to the chagrin of Dogpatch bachelors everywhere. (See leap year for discussion of a similar tradition of "allowing" women to propose marriage on February 29.)

Sadie Hawkins Day was first mentioned in the November 13, 1937 Li'l Abner strip with the race actually taking place between the November 19th and November 30th strips. It would prove to be an annual event in the strip.

Sadie Hawkins Day captured the imagination of many young, particularly on campuses. A Life magazine headline reported, in 1939, that "On Sadie Hawkins Day, Girls Chase Boys in 201 Colleges" and printed pictures from Texas Wesleyan.

Many US high schools, especially in the Midwest and South, hold Sadie Hawkins day dances. These dances are characterized by girls asking boys for dates, and matching farmer clothes being worn to the dance. This dance is also occasionally called "T.W.I.R.P." (The Woman Is Responsible to Pay), in which girls ask boys, pay for dinner, dance tickets, etc.

Abilene Christian University celebrates a Sadie Hawkins Week, rather than only one day. However, there is no associated dance, in light of the school's traditional policy prohibiting social dancing.



ONLINE DATING

A Net dating service, also known as online dating or internet dating, is an example of a dating system and allows individuals, couples and groups to meet online and possibly develop a romantic or sexual relationship. Net dating services provide un-moderated matchmaking through the use of personal computers, the Internet, or even cell phones.

Such services generally allow people to provide personal information, then search for other individuals using criteria such as age range, gender and location. Most sites allow members to upload photos of themselves and browse the photos of others. Sites may offer additional services, such as webcasts, online chat, and message boards. Sites sometimes allow people to register for free but may offer services which require a monthly fee.

Many sites are broad-based, with members from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships. Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.

U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, the largest segment of “paid content” on the web, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks.

At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38 percent increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc. However, market share was increasingly being dominated by several large commercial services, including Yahoo Personals, Match.com, American Singles, and eHarmony. eHarmony CEO Greg Forgatch noted that despite the growing number of sites catering to specific niches, "to become a major player, it still takes a large number of people."

In 2002, a Wired magazine article forecast that, "Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love without looking for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because 'the right books are found only by accident.' Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient"[1].

The online dating trend has also become very successful in Europe in the past decade. Not only has match.com opened local branches in European countries to cater to their particular culture and language, but also a French company, Meetic, has become one of the top sites. Their success has encouraged new start-ups and niche sites to come on board.

Problems with Online Dating Services

There can be a variety of problems with online dating sites. Some sites expect members to sign up "blind", with no preview of the type of profiles they will get to see. Some profiles are not actually real people, but "bait" put there by the site owners to attract new paying members. Some users spam sites with "fake" profiles that are in reality advertisements to other services, such as prostitution or multi-level marketing. A majority of dating sites keep profiles online for months or even years since the last time the person has logged in, thereby making it seem as though they have more available members than they actually do. Many sites offer the option to sort search results based on activity, however. Most sites still have significantly more male members than female.

Even when members' profiles are "real", there is still an inherent lack of trust with other members. Many members misrepresent themselves by telling flattering 'white lies' about their height, weight and age, or using old or misleading photos. Members can, of course, ask for an up-to-date photograph before meeting others.

Some sites cater to people with special interests (e.g. sports fans, nerds), professions, political preferences, conditions (e.g. HIV+, obese), or religions.

Matrimonials Sites are a variant of online dating sites, and these are geared towards meeting people for the purpose of getting married. Gross misrepresentation is less likely on these sites than on 'casual dating' sites. Casual dating sites are often geared more towards short term (and implicitly sexual) relationships.