No one really knows how Valentines day originally came about or even who St
Valentine really was - the Catholic church has three different St
Valentines and in ancient Rome the 14th of
February was marked as a holiday to honour the god Juno. Custom has it that in
France and England Valentines day originally came to be held in mid February
because this was the time of year that birds and animals started pairing off and
mating. Eventually it became popular to exchange small tokens and love letters
and so the day was born.
An old Valentines day custom in France and now officially banned was called the "une loterie d'amour" or "drawing for love". This entailed single people of all ages entering houses that faced opposite each other and calling out through the windows till eventually they paired off with each other. The male suitor if not particularly attracted to his partner would leave her and the women left single would build a large bonfire and ceremoniously burn images of the men that had deserted them whilst simultaneously hurling abuse and curses at the ungrateful men. Though this was probably very therapeutic for the rejected women inevitably it was a practice that soon became out of hand and was eventually banned by the French government.
In France Valentines cards are called cartes d'amities, the first recorded Valentines greeting was supposed to have been sent by the Duke of Orleans, a Frenchman who was held prisoner in the Tower of London after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. During his imprisonment the young duke is said to have sent poems & love letters to his wife in France.
It is also traditional for religious pilgrims in France to travel to St Valentin a pretty village in Indre that is named after St Valentine. These days the village holds many events and ceremonies dedicated to Valentines day including marriage vow renewals.
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No one really knows how Valentines day originally came about or even who St Valentine really was - the Catholic church has three different St Valentines and in ancient Rome the 14th of...