Darien celebrates Valentine’s Day in unique ways
DARIEN — Mystery is in the air this Valentine’s Day, at least in Darien. So is nature and an angsty spirit as different town entities prepare to celebrate the holiday in their own ways.
The Darien Historical Society, the Darien Nature Center and the Darien Library are all planning unique events to celebrate the holiday of love, whether it’s the weekend before the Wednesday holiday or on Valentine’s Day itself.
Starting Sunday, the historical society will be displaying love letters to Cate Raymond, a young woman who lived in the area during the Revolutionary War, in their exhibit “Cupid Goes Off to War: Notes of Passion and Praise.” While only seven letters are displayed in the exhibit, Ken Reiss, the society’s historian, said Raymond had no shortage of affection in her life as the letters represent several suitors.
“I’ve never seen a group of personal letters like that saved from the 1700s,” said Reiss who will be at the historical society the day of the exhibit opening to provide additional background for attendees. “The fact they’re local is really amazing.”
Raymond’s suitors range from a Continental Army soldier based in Garrison, N.Y., to a Loyalist living on Long Island, N.Y., at a refugee camp, chopping firewood for the British army. Another suitor, who had moved to Simsbury, was so smitten with Raymond, he also had two friends write letters to her on his behalf.
“These letter are smack dab in the middle of the war time,” Reiss said. “That’s another thing I’ve just never seen are personal letters from that period, including two letters from opposite sides.”
The most notable letters come from a suitor whose name Raymond cut off the bottom of paper, causing speculation.
“There’s no way you’re going to find out unless you can match the handwriting with somebody, but that’s pretty unlikely,” Reiss said. “But when you look at the letters and see how they were written and read everything in the letter and see the handwriting ... two or three of us looked at it independently and said, ‘I think that might’ve been a woman.’”
Those interested in celebrating a less-traditional form of love on Valentine’s Day can turn to the Darien Nature Center or the Darien Library instead.
According to the nature center’s executive director, Leila Wetmore, they will be hosting their first Valentine’s Day party this year featuring different types of crafts. Youngsters and their parents can go in to make nature-inspired Valentine’s themed crafts like a heart-shaped birdseed feeder, lavender sachets and valentines from items found in nature on Feb. 11.
“We’re always promoting a love of nature and animals,” Wetmore said. “The heart gift is for birds and the sachet is a reminder of nature for Mom.”
The nature center’s 40 animals will be available for play time.
On Feb. 14 itself, teens at the Darien Library will have the option to take part in an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” party where they can decorate black heart cookies, listen to angry music and make non-romantic cards.