The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day

A parliament of fowlsWe can thank Chaucer, apparently, for the convention of the feast day of St. Valentine being a day for lovers.

The name Valentine belongs to several early Christian martyrs, including one who was apprehended for performing marriages.

But the first reference to the feast day of one of these saints being a day for match-making comes from Chaucer, who wrote the following in his poem The Parlement of Foules (The Parliament of Fowls):

For this was on seynt Valentynes day,
Whan every foul cometh there to chese his make,
Of every kynde that men thynke may,
And that so huge a noyse gan they make
That erthe, and eyr, and tre, and every lake
So ful was, that unethe there was space
For me to stonde, so was ful al the place.

Amid the huge “noyse” that Hallmark and others will make on St. Valentine’s Day, with restaurants so “ful” that you might need to “stonde” a while at the bar, may the day be felicitous one for you, and may you “chese a make” (and perhaps eek maken meloyde) with “ful devout corage.”