As another Valentine’s Day approaches, how much do you know about this day of love?
Personally, I didn’t know much until I pulled out my old folklore books. So, if you’ve ever wondered how the year’s most romantic day got started, then grab a cup of tea and keep reading. Here are some facts you might not have known about Valentine’s Day.
Birds Not Saints: First off, history tells us those two obscure Saint Valentines from the fourth century — who may have actually been the same person — didn’t have much to do with bringing the love connotations to Valentine’s Day. For the romantic aspects, you need to look to the birds.
As far back as the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer and other celebrated English and French writers believed that birds chose their mates on the feast of their patron Saint Valentine.
By Feb. 14, birds do start to reappear and repair their nests in some climates. So, the promise of spring renewal and fertility can be felt in the air around this time. Plus, we’ve all heard the expression “the birds and the bees,” although I don’t see any mention of bees in this particular story.
Picking Valentines: In earlier times, Valentines were sometimes selected the night before. A group of young women and men would meet and write slips of paper with names on them. The slip you picked was your Valentine the next day … and no cheating allowed.
On Valentine’s Eve, it was also the custom to write names of prospective lovers on slips of paper. These were rolled into clay balls and dropped into a bowl of water. The first to rise to the top was your future Valentine.
There’s also the centuries-old tradition that the first person of the opposite sex you see on Valentine’s Day must become your Valentine. Not surprisingly, some would go blindfolded to the house of their desired sweetheart, so they didn’t see the wrong person. Be sure to keep your eyes closed until the right one comes along too.