St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb 14

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Chaucer-Valentine-Day-FEB-2012Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year.

It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them.

St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius.
 
Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her.

Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6th and July 30th, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).

DovesValentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid.

Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Chaucer’s love birds

The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Chaucer wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

[“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.  A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. (When they were married eight months later, they were each only 15 years old).

Antique_Valentine_1909_01Readers have uncritically assumed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine’s Day; however, mid-February is an unlikely time for birds to be mating in England. Henry Ansgar Kelly has pointed out that Chaucer could be referring to May 3, the celebration in the liturgical calendar of Valentine of Genoa, an early bishop of Genoa who died around AD 307.

Jack B. Oruch says that date for the start of Spring has changed since Chaucer’s time due to precession of equinoxes and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. The weather would correspond to the modern 23 February, a time when some birds have started mating and nesting in England.

Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules is set in a fictional context of an old tradition, but in fact there was no such tradition before Chaucer. The speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars.

Most notably, “the idea that Valentine’s Day customs perpetuated those of the Roman Lupercalia has been accepted uncritically and repeated, in various forms, up to the present”.

There were other three authors who made poems about birds mating in Saint Valentine’s Day around the same years: Otton de Grandson from Savoy, John Gower from England, and a knight called Pardo from Valencia. Chaucer most probably predated all of them, but, due to the difficulty of dating medieval works, we can’t know for sure who of the four had the idea first and influenced the others.

 

Celebrate with Your Loved Ones …

 
red roses dozen
 

 Happy Valentine’s Day !!!

 

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