Valentine’s Day: Not so much about saints anymore

A Valentine greeting card dated 1909. (Wikipedia)
A Valentine greeting card dated 1909. (Wikipedia)

Blame it on Chaucer.

Apparently, he was the first to associate the celebration of Saint Valentine with romance when he wrote these words in his Parlement of Foules in 1392, according to Wikipedia:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Translation: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

Before that, the Valentines honoured on Feb. 14 were Christian martyrs named Valentine, the same Wikipedia entry says. And Saint Valentine’s Day is still commemorated in various religious communities.

But like the ancient Winter Solstice celebration, which became a celebration of Christ the Saviour (here comes the sun/son) and then devolved into the materialistic myth of Santa Claus and subsequent shopping frenzy every December, a solemn day of commemoration for Christian martyrs named Valentine succumbed to commercialism.

No surprise, huh?

Still, we humans have to have our courtship rituals, oui? And that’s really what Valentine’s Day has become for many: a time to participate in a mass love fest.

Indeed, that is what Valentine’s Day has become: a celebration of love, the personal kind, the intimate kind. Oh, yes, and the retail kind.

Could Chaucer have possibly foreseen the ripple effects of his words?

It is doubtful.

Personally, I’m grateful to Chaucer.

My love and I will be a little more romantic than usual on Valentine’s Day — though, we have been in the honeymoon stage for the past three years.

How about you?

Will you be cursing Chaucer this weekend?

Or will you get caught up in the spirit of Valentine’s Day?

— Jillian

5 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day: Not so much about saints anymore

  1. Ah, yes, Hallowe’en-in-February. A day that strikes terror into the hearts of men (specified “men” not “people”), when people dress up funny and demand loot.

    With that dread day coming up, I once again reflect on how much I detest holidays in general and the whole ritual of mandatory gift giving. There are 4 days/year where it’s required: Christmas (Hannukkah, Solstice, Festivus, Whatever), Valentine’s Day, her birthday, and our anniversary (why the heck didn’t I just continue to live in sin? Oh yeah, love and all that).

    Recently have the house as an excuse. “Hey, I bought you a house this year…” I’m wondering how much longer/how many holidays I can use that one. Is it a certain time period? A certain number of holidays? One holiday per room? One month per xxx square foot? There must be some guideline. I’d write to Miss Manners, but being a woman, she’d just tell me to suck it up.


    1. Suck it up . . . Where’s your sense of romance?!

      Valentine’s Day is not a mandatory celebration, but your loved one will surely take note if you omit to do something special on this day.

      Fall in line, or pay the price later . . .


      1. Sorry, but only Miss Manners and my Loving Wife (and maybe Evil Secretary) get to tell me to “suck it up.”

        Yeah, I know, nothing says “I love you” like partaking in the annual 2nd biggest, overly-commercialized, greed-fest.


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