Did You Know…About Valentine’s Day?

We all know about Valentine’s Day, but Did You Know how Valentine’s Day actually came about?

There were actually numerous Christian martyrs who were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 496 and Valentine of Terni who became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) in about AD 197 and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian.

The day actually became associated with romantic love through the work of writer Geoffrey Chaucer. In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honour of the engagement between England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In “The Parliament of Fowls,” the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine’s Day are linked:

For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.

The actual treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381 but readers have  assumed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine’s Day. While Parliament of Fowls refers to a supposedly established tradition, historians have found no record of such a tradition before Chaucer.

It is interesting to note that the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia was observed between the 13th and 15th of February. Some researchers have theorized that Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with the celebration of the Purification of Mary in February 14 and claim a connection to the 14th century’s connotations of romantic love.

Struggling to find the words this year, why not take advantage of the library’s collection of Romance Poetry, or make your own card or gift with the aid of our craft collections. Or why not prepare the perfect romantic meal for someone special.

If you would like to know more, then check out this documentary courtesy of the History Channel website.