Celebrate Love in the Tri-Valley

The Tri-Valley offers many ways to honor, observe, and celebrate special occasions, including Valentine's Day, which falls on February 14. In modern times, celebrants often express their affection by giving loved ones cards, chocolates, or flowers on that date. While no one knows exactly how Valentine's Day came to be associated with romance, theories abound.

"At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day, and since then, February 14th has been a day of celebration-though it was generally more religious than romantic," according to the editors of Real Simple magazine. "Valentine's Day is a fixed day on the calendar that got lumped into a mid-February holiday on the ancient Roman calendar called Lupercalia-which some historians believe is what led to Valentine's Day being all about love. Lupercalia celebrated fertility, and may have included a ritual in which men and women were paired off by choosing names from a jar. In Ancient Greece, people observed a mid-winter celebration for the marriage of the god Zeus and the goddess Hera."

While details on the holiday itself are somewhat murky, the history of paper Valentines is more straightforward. The earliest known English language example of a Valentine, in the form of a love letter, can be found at the British Library, according to Scrapbook.com. Written by Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston in 1477, "Margery refers to John as her 'right well-beloved Valentine' and beseeches him to marry her despite the fact she hasn't been able to convince her father to increase her dowry," according to Scrapbook.com.

Several centuries later, the eventual popularity of paper Valentines can be traced to one Esther Howland, "whose father owned the largest stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts." Nicknamed the "Mother of the American Valentine," Howland is credited with creating the first mass-market printed Valentines in the United States, according to the website. "In 1849, Howland designed a line of Valentine's Day cards after being inspired by one sent to her from England. Howland's cards, featuring lacey cut-outs and intricate illustrations, were assembled in her home by a bevy of local ladies that she hired."

Explore Outdoors

Tri-Valley residents who want to celebrate Valentine's Day locally have a multitude of choices for romantic locations. The region's natural beauty makes it a haven for amblers, cyclists, equestrians, and hikers who love the outdoors. "The East Bay Regional Park District has over 1,250 miles of trails throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties, with some amazing ones in Tri-Valley area parks," says Dave Mason, Public Information Supervisor, Public Affairs, for the East Bay Regional Park District. "From wildflowers at Sunol to the raptors soaring over Morgan Territory, Regional Park trails offer multiple opportunities to explore."

Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park is located on an oak-covered ridge overlooking Pleasanton and the Livermore Valley from the west. Development in this lovely 5,271-acre park has been intentionally limited to preserve the pastoral atmosphere. From the main staging area on Foothill Road visitors can follow its multipurpose trail system. The system can accommodate hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists, who will find a visit worthwhile thanks to the park's canyon views, ridge-top vistas, and remote, deep-canyon streams.
The centerpiece of Del Valle Regional Park is a lake five miles long surrounded by 4,395 acres for hiking, horseback riding, and nature study. In addition to hiking trails, it offers a variety of water-oriented recreation, from swimming to windsurfing and boating. Del Valle Regional Park also acts as the eastern gateway to the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, 28 miles of scenic backcountry trail. A variety of trails can also be accessed from Hacienda or from other parts of the City of Pleasanton.

Another compelling way to enjoy the outdoors is by visiting one or more of Livermore Valley wineries, which make up one of the oldest wine regions in the country. Many of the local wineries offer outdoor tasting in gorgeous vineyard settings. A convenient guide to Livermore Valley Wine Trails from Visit Tri-Valley can help celebrants create a  personalized tasting tour for Valentine's.

Indoor Fun

Some people prefer indoor fun for Valentine's Day, and the Tri-Valley has plenty to offer on that front as well. Livermore's Vine Cinema and Alehouse, for example, calls itself "a complete date night wrapped into one!" Vine is the Tri-Valley's only movie theater that serves beer, wine, and food while showing independent and classic films and classics. Since its opening in December 1956, the Vine has been remodeled several times, upgraded its technology over time, and survived a one-year closure during the pandemic thanks to community support. Today it is thriving once again as a haven for film lovers who enjoy fine beverages.

Non-movie fans have many other options as well. They include visiting local museums, indoor beer taprooms and wine tasting, escape rooms, art studios, cooking lessons, and more. Visit Tri-Valley's guide to 10 Indoor Activities has additional details. If those choices seem too informal, two special events may be a great way to celebrate.

Museum on Main's Wines and Valentines 2023 fundraising dinner will be held on Friday, February 10 at 6 pm at the new Rubys & Roses restaurant on Main Street at the Pleasanton Hotel. Each ticket includes a four-course meal with wine pairings. The evening will include a silent auction, a live auction, and more. The live auction offerings include a Haunted Museum Dinner for eight and a Murder Mystery Event for eight at the winning bidder's home.

Livermore's Purple Orchid Resort and Spa, On the Vine Catering, and Cuda Ridge Wines have partnered to create the Valentine's Winemaker Dinner at Purple Orchid Resort and Spa will be held on the holiday itself, Tuesday, February 14. The four-course dinner will be paired with four award-winning Cuda Ridge wines. The welcome reception starts at 6:00 pm with dinner to follow at 6:30 pm. Stay and Dine packages are available at Purple Orchid Resort & Spa, according to organizers, who say dinner reservations are limited.

For more information about the history of Valentine's Day, please visit www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/holidays/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.

For more information about the history of Valentine cards, please visit www.scrapbook.com/articles/valentine-history.

For more information about trails and activities in the East Bay Regional Park District, please visit www.ebparks.org.

For more information about the Vine Cinema and Alehouse, please visit www.vinecinema.com.

For more information about Tri-Valley indoor activities, please visit www.visittrivalley.com/travel-guides-and-resources/indoor-activities-to-do-in-the-tri-valley.

For more information about the Museum on Main's Wines and Valentines 2023 fundraising dinner, please visit www.museumonmain.org/wines--valentines.html.

For more information about the Valentine's Winemaker Dinner, please visit www.cudaridgewines.com/event/valentines-winemaker-dinner-at-purple-orchid-resort-and-spa.  

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