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It may have been the day after Valentine’s Day, but the sweet aura of love and friendship were still lingering in the air on Wednesday, Feb. 15, when the American Benevolent Society (ABS)  hosted its annual (albeit belated) feast of Saint Valentine luncheon at Christ Church in Mexico City’s Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec.

American Benevolent Society president Bill Biese and his Valentine and wife of 35 years, Lilian Biese. Pulse News Mexico photo/Thérèse Margolis

The meal consisted of a delicious spread of crudités, pita chips with humus and labneh, and cilantro mousse, followed by homemade quiche Florentine and salad, all served with chardonnay and merlot wine. And for dessert, there were individual fruit tarts.

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, has been celebrated in Christian cultures since the 13th century.

The holiday originated as a religious observation commemorating and honoring a martyred Roman priest named Valentine who died in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496.

According to early Christian traditions, Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer and was later accredited with having performed other miracles.

Former ABS executive director Barbara Franco and her husband Enrique Franco. Pulse News Mexico photo/Thérèse Margolis

He also allegedly performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.

The holiday, which is believed to mark his birthday, became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished across Europe. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion for couples to express their love for each other by presenting flowers and sweets, along with greeting cards (known as “valentines”).

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