Violets and Valentines

As Valentine's Day approaches it's fun to recall the ways violets were once the flower of choice for celebrating this romantic holiday and some of the historical associations that violets carry with them.

It's recorded that St. Valentine, when in prison, wrote love notes using the ink of crushed violets. Valentine supposedly fell in love with his jailor's daughter. Before his death, legend says he sent her a letter signed "From Your Valentine .” So began the tradition of sending love notes to celebrate St. Valentine's Day.

Beautiful fragrant violets have long been associated with romance and St. Valentine's Day. These days it's hard to find cultivated violets, and lovers often give more easily accessible roses, but during Victorian and Edwardian times violets were preferred. During this time, hundreds of greenhouses in and around Rhinebeck were the main Hudson Valley growers of popular violets, and millions of blooms were sent to market each year from Rhinecliff on trains like the “Violet Special.”

Other romantic tales include violets.  Napoleon and Josephine's famous love story includes the legend that Napoleon always kept with him a locket containing violets to signify his love for Josephine. In addition, Napoleon promised his supporters that he would return to fight for them “with the violets in the spring.” Violets became the symbol of his political followers and a symbol of love and constancy.

The celebrated composer Chopin was a great lover of violets and to keep his memory alive, every year, admirers place violets on his grave. Another expression of devotion made with violets.

Our film, “Sweet Violets” is a great Valentine's Day gift for romantic lovers, lovers of flowers and lovers of local history. It can be ordered online at

While the season lasts you can find locally grown violets at Battenfeld's in Milan, just east of Red Hook.

For your enjoyment here are some valentines and images with a violets theme.