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valentine day

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valentine day

February 14 th

In the wild fields of Norfolk

I heard people say,

‘Send a gift to a good child

On Valentine’s Day’.

‘Send a gift to a good child

Knock hard – then away,

And seek out last Spring’s love

Or a love for today,

And ask her to visit and stay

To tea without lights on Saint

Valentine’s Day’.


When all the fun of Christmas and New Year is over, there’s a feeling of anti-climax. The rest of January is dreary and cold. But before long the empty sshops seem to come to life once again with displays of attractive and brightly coloured ‘I love you’ Valentine cards.

St. Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome and died for his faith in A.D. 170. His feast happens to fall on February 14 th – the traditional day for lovers. But this is mere coincidence. He was not therefore the true patron saint of lovers.

There was in early times a strong belief that on this day bbirds choose their mates. To some extent this might explain why love – birds seem to be such popular motifs on Valentine cards. A fourteenth century poet wrote: ‘On Valentine’s Day all the birds of the air in couples do jjoin’. And Shakespeare carried on the tradition when Theseus says in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’:

St. Valentine is past:

Begin these wood-birds

but to couple now?’’

But antiquarians maintain that St. Valentine’s Day celebrations are a continuation of a Roman festival of Pan and Juno.

There used to be a custom in England on St. Valentine’s Day, mentioned by Chaucer, Shakespeare and Pepys: the names of young, unmarried men and girls were mixed up and drawn out by chance. The person of the opposite sex whose name came out after yours was your chosen ‘Valentine’ for the year.

Just over a century ago it became fashionable to send pretty lace-edged ...

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