By Sharon McIntire Any florist will tell you Valentine's Day is a marathon. According to the Society of American Florists, on this one day of the year more than 250 million roses fill American homes with love and beauty.But who is the man behind the myth?That’s debatable. It seems that Valentine was a popular name in ancient Rome, and there are dozens of stories of different saints by that name. The Roman Catholic Church has narrowed it down to three –or maybe a few more –who were named Valentine or Valentinus and were martyred for their faith by the Romans. The two who are most widely credited for our romantic holiday both served the Roman Catholic Church in third century Rome, and both, unfortunately, came to the attention of Emperor Claudius II.One Valentine was a priest. The emperor in his infinite wisdom decided married men were too distracted to make good soldiers, so he forbade marriage. Valentine thought they made good husbands as well as good soldiers, so he performed marriages in secret.The emperor took umbrage to this and imprisoned the kind clergyman. While in prison, Valentine is said to have fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter. When he was taken to be executed on February 14, he reportedly sent her a love letter signed, “From your Valentine.”St. Valentine of Terni was a bishop who is said to have also raised the emperor’s ire by helping Christians who were routinely beaten and tortured to escape the horrible Roman prisons. The emperor imprisoned Valentine in a nobleman’s home and while there, he healed his captor’s blind daughter. This made such an impression that the entire household converted to Christianity which, unfortunately, was not healthy for the well-intentioned bishop. Emperor Claudius had him tortured and decapitatedon February 14, but not before Valentine sent the young girl a card signed, “From your Valentine.”That explains why we send cards. But neither of these saints –or any of the others as far as we know -sent flowers.Ah, but Venus did. This Goddess of Love believed that roses stood for strong feelings, which was all very well until she encountered the Victorians who thought passion was sort of, well, naughty. One didn't speak of strong emotions, or maybe even have them.Those that couldn't help themselves,however, developed a “language of flowers” -officially called floriography -to speak their passion in their stead. Reportedly perfected in Sweden, every single flower that ever was has been given its own meaning. Look it up: all flowers “say something” so that informed people can have an entire, intimate conversation without saying a word.Red roses, of course, declare the giver's true love. The shy pink rose is more reserved, expressing “deep affection,” (take heart: next year you may receive those red ones!)And yellow roses are the gregarious bunch, signifying joy, friendship, new beginnings, and, of course, the freedom of Texas.Now that you know how to speak flower, there's still time to hit the talented florists in Carlsbad. Each offers all the passion you care to convey with an amazing degree of creativity.
Garden Mart, on the corner of Canyon and Hagerman, offers a huge selection of Valentine choices including fresh or silk flowers, balloons, wreaths, and dish or basket gardens to which you can add chocolates, Valentine bears or other stuffed animals.Angee Lambert of Angee's Flowers, who started her career as a 14-year-old in what was then The Flower Patch on Canal Street, can whip up a Valentine-colored mixed bouquet of no less than 100 roses for“the one who wants to just wow their girlfriend or wife.” (That should shock those Victorians).Kim Gregory at Carlsbad Floral and Gifts, who moved recently from her downtown store to their larger location on Pierce Street, finds a Valentine’s Day market for sunflowers (to express homage and devotion) and lilies (for majesty, purity, and virginity) as well as roses. In addition, she sells a lot of blue and purple in her Valentine bouquets, which perhaps helps to mollify the delicate feelings of those poor Victorians.If you are worried that the language of your flowers doesn't quite express your feelings, Carlsbad Floral has the added advantage of being a gift store as well, so you add any number of intimate, personal touches to your floral expression. Someof these are even on sale at 21% off (to give the year 2021 a little boost of optimism). In addition, she is donating 100% of their balloon sales to Backpacks for Hunger, so if you buy your loved one a balloon, you'll be giving twice. St. Valentine would be proud.The three stores will deliver your wordless passion all day Saturday, and if you didn't work up the courage until Sunday, they will be open that day as well for pick-up and carry-out