Hello fellow inquiring and interested ones, The Why Kid here again.
Is it safe to say that on this February 13th that good ol’ L.O.V.E. is already wafting through the air? Literally, I feel as if I can smell the chocolate coated candy bliss even as I type.
Therefore, it is only natural that my inquisitive brain has once again begun to turn its well-greased wheels.
Last we spoke, I was dying to know about Saint Nicholas: Who he was, and why do we care? That entry can be found here for all those interested parties. Now, as the romantic month is upon us, I am desperately interested to find out all I can about Saint Valentine. I refuse to believe that Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a commercial holiday. Everything has an origin.
According to my research, and contrary to popular opinion, Valentine’s Day doesn’t just recognize the work of one Catholic saint, but many (possibly 14 in all). Many of these men were killed during the rein of Claudius II in Rome. It was during that time that Christians were being persecuted, and many of these saints were killed when they were caught performing marriage ceremonies for Christian couples. According to the early martyrologies, three of these martyrs’ deaths can be found under the date February 14th.
Therefore, this must be why we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th, correct? No. Fooled you. In fact, the first recorded association with Valentine’s Day and romantic love comes from a case built up by historian Jack Oruch. His theory dates back to 1382 and a little poem called Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer. (Depicted in the image above).
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
Chaucer wrote this poem in honor of the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, and the time of year in England (med-February) when birds could often be seen pairing off with their chosen mates. Until then, there was never any type of ritual recorded for Valentine’s Day. Chaucer changed all of that. And soon after, the likes of William Shakespeare, John Donne, and Edmund Spenser all followed suit.
So there you have it kids; A little martyrdom, a little poetry, a little engagement, a little ritual. Sure sounds like a Valentine’s Day to me.
The Why Kid.
Photo Credit: http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/chaucerport.htm