As we approach Valentine's Day

Ophelia’s Lament

Tomorrow is St Valentines Day All in the morning betime And I a maid at your window To be your Valentine

William Shakespeare – AD 1601

In ancient Rome, 13 to 15 February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival and there was a celebration of love on this date.

There have been a number of events which, historically, have been associated with Valentine's Day. From the case of Valentine of Rome falling in love with his jailer's daughter and sending her a note saying ‘From your Valentine’, to the High Court of Love opening in Paris on the 14th February AD 1400. This court dealt with affairs of the heart, marriage contracts, divorces and infidelity. It was around this time that the Duke of Orleans writes the first recorded Valentines note to his beloved, while he is imprisoned in the Tower of London.

By the mid-18th century the passing of love-notes was popular in England, a precursor to the St Valentine's Day card as we know it today. Early ones were made of lace and paper. In 1797, ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ was published, suggesting appropriate rhymes and messages to help young men out with writing their Valentine’s card. As the postal services became more affordable, the anonymous St Valentine's Day card became possible and heralded the beginnings of Valentine’s Day traditions as we understand them today.

Whilst writing this blog I’ve asked lots of people, young and old(er) for their thoughts on Valentine’s Day and it is clear that it still evokes excitement, expectation and fun as well as, in those non-anonymous situations, the chance to reaffirm love. So let’s embrace the day and enjoy.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all.

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