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High Strung Studios Blog

Valentine’s Day History and Fun Facts

Valentine’s Day History and Fun Facts

Hello HSS readers,

I thought with Valentines Day coming up I'd share with you a bit of (somewhat useless) knowledge about the history of this celebration of all things love! 

Whoa, Saint Valentine was a pretty cool guy!

Saint Valentine

A short history… bear with me here.

In Rome around 269 AD, the Emperor Claudius II, used bloody, aggressive military tactics to conquer Europe. Most of the Roman soldiers wanted no part of the violence. Claudius, who historians believe may have been a little nuts, was convinced that the soldiers didn’t want to fight because they’d have to leave behind their wives and families so he decreed that soldiers could not get married or have families. Not cool.

Valentinus, a Christian priest, performed secret weddings for soldiers. When he was found out, Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. While imprisoned he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Sound like a good premise for a song! Before his execution on February 14, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a final farewell and well, the rest is history.

Oh, and Valentinus was officially sainted by the Catholic church several hundred years later. 

So, why do we give Valentines?

Giving a valentine

The earliest recorded Valentine is a medieval French poem entitled ‘Farewell to Love’, (that's a Valentine?!) written by Charles, Duke of Orléans in 1415, to his wife. Charles wrote the poem while he was held in the Tower of London after being captured during the Hundred Years War. Whew! That's depressing.

Translated from French, it goes like this:

My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

Fun fact: There are approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards exchanged each year in the US alone!

Roses are red…and white and yellow…

Roses are red

Roses are said to have become linked to Valentine’s Day during the 17th century, with tales of the rose being a symbol of Venus, the classical goddess of love. Oooh la la! Most people like to give red roses but over time, other colors have gained meaning.

  • Red: Romantic love, desire
  • White: Innocence and charm
  • Mixed red and white: Unity
  • Pink: Happiness
  • Lavender: Enchantment
  • Yellow: Friendship
  • Mixed colors: You’re everything to me (aww)

Fun fact: Approximately 110 million roses are produced for the Valentine’s Day holiday in the US. Men purchase 75% of these. And 15% of women purchase roses for themselves! Talk about some self-love!

I’m not complaining, but why all the chocolate?

Chocolate

Late in the 1800s, Richard Cadbury came up with a process of extracting cacao butter from whole beans to create a more tasty form of “drinking chocolate.” This process resulted in an excess of cacao butter, which was used to produce more varieties of what was then called “eating chocolate.” The best kind! 

In a stroke of marketing genius, these chocolates were packaged in heart-shaped boxes decorated with Cupids and rosebuds which Cadbury designed himself.

Fun fact: More than 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Valentine’s week. Think that’s a lot? Halloween blows that away with over 90 million pounds of chocolate!

The thing is, flowers end up in the garbage and chocolate ends up on your hips.

Give a gift that truly resonates - Guitar String Jewelry!

Shop the Love Collection! 

 

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Music and Me - a Timeline of Becoming and Creativity

Music and Me - a Timeline of Becoming and Creativity

Hey High Strung Readers,

I’m excited to begin my new blog venture with you! I am looking forward to using this space to express to you what drives my passion and obsession for creating and more specifically for creating guitar string jewelry so you can get a glimpse into the process and positive energy that goes into each one of my High Strung pieces.

We’ll start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start”). 

So I was born in Pittsburgh, PA (go Steelers!) but moved to NJ when I was 6 years old. I’ve always loved to sing (I was a total ham as a child) but when I was in my early teens I showed some interest in writing songs. My super supportive and encouraging parents bought me a keyboard which I used to write my earliest melodies. I was about 13 when I wrote my first song. Like most teenagers, I thought I knew everything there was to know about love and life. My first song (that I remember) was a love song inspired by a boy (no surprise there). One genius line I remember is: “The wall between us can be a window too.” Ha! *shakes head* It needs some work, but not too shabby. 

I purchased a guitar for myself on my 21st birthday. It was a $150 Ibanez, which was a million dollars to me back then, but worth the splurge. I learned to play a few chords and never looked back. My first song was “Me and Bobby McGee.” I remember my friends were so impressed that I could sing and play at the same time. That positive reinforcement fueled the passion. I did a lot of busking and playing around campfires for the next couple years. 

That old Ibanez traveled with me from coast to coast, even stopping back home in NJ for a few years to join a band and form a duo. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had musically but my gypsy heart couldn’t stay. The mountains were calling so I moved to North Carolina and fell in love (in more ways than one) and ended up staying for quite a few years.

My most recent move back to New Jersey was the best thing I could have done to further my musical creativity. When I came here, I was determined to focus on my music again and I found a group of wonderfully supportive musicians and music lovers in the local area. I began with small open mics and slowly worked my way back into writing more music, playing coffee shops and bars, and collaborating. This group of supportive musicians was also the spark that inspired me to co-found a 501(c)3 Nonprofit called Musicians on a Mission but that story is for another time.

It was my goal of playing more that led me to the discovery that changed my life. I was changing the strings on my guitar when I had that ‘ah ha’ moment (love those) that the strings I was about to throw away could be a very cool bracelet! I have been a jewelry designer for many years, working most recently with stained glass. People still occasionally ask for my stained glass designs, but I can’t find the time now! Maybe I’ll eventually incorporate some stained glass into the guitar string jewelry. I never stop creating so who knows what I’ll come up with next. Before I made the mind blowing discovery about using guitar strings for jewelry,I wasn’t being very actively creative with anything other than my music and creating is something my soul needs to do all the time. Guitar string jewelry immediately became something I could really pour my heart into and I did! I jumped in full time after about 9 months of experimenting and I haven’t looked back! 

I couldn’t be happier to be working with something musical. There is something about the guitar and other stringed instruments that have always enchanted me. I am a little bit obsessed. So this blending of my love of music, love of the guitar, and love of creating is perfection.

Rock and Roll,

Jenny Woods

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