OK. I admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic. I adore St Valentine’s Day. What’s not to like in a celebration of love? I know people complain that it’s all commercialised these days, but it doesn’t have to be. What could be more romantic than a homemade card (Come on guys – a piece of paper with a heart drawn on it – really not hard) and a hand-delivered envelope Sealed With A Loving Kiss?
Like so many martyrs of the early Common Era, St Valentine (or the most likely candidate to be him) came to a grisly end (graphic details available upon request), imprisoned and executed for marrying Roman soldiers who were forbidden to wed (There’s no historical evidence for this BTW, but it’s a good story). Legend has it that before he met his end, he cured his jailor’s daughter of blindness, and wrote her a letter of farewell signed ‘Your Valentine.’ And the rest is history …
14th Century: Chaucer is not only writing the Canterbury Tales, but also in the Parliament of Fowles:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Wildlife experts point out that 14th Feb is an unlikely day for birds to mate in England, and historians note how dating systems have changed since Chaucer’s time, but I totally like the idea that the friendly robin who frequents my garden has today found his/her soulmate.
Fast forward to 1797, and we have the publication of ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ for the young lover unable to write his own ardent verse. (So much easier to find the words to declare your passion now that we have the internet! Or just write what you feel…)
The Victorians: Gorgeous romantic Valentine’s cards – and because of the new anonymous and relatively cheap accessibility to the post, some surprisingly racy messages for what is usually thought of as a most decorous era!
21st Century: 15 million e-Valentines sent in 2010.
Times change, but love is still all around.