Tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day, which got me thinking about the day’s origins.
Valentine’s Day has been marked in liturgical calendars for centuries. As a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day actually commemorates two Saint Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.
But Valentine’s Day only became associated with romantic love during the late fourteenth century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, made the association in his poem ‘The Parlement of Foules’ (written to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia- both fifteen years old).
The poem features a parliament, or assembly, of birds, which have gathered together in order to choose their mates:
‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’
Since literature seems to be the origins for modern Valentine’s Day, then it is still the perfect medium in which to talk about love, and here are two of my favourite literary love quotes:
“You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how”
Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell
“I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one. My reason for life”
Atonement by Ian McEwan.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!