Love Lotteries and Other Strange Stories About Valentine's Day
Drawing Lots to Find a Lover
Saint Valentine was a Roman who was martyred for refusing to abandon Christianity. He died on February 14, 299 AD, one day before the fertility festival known as the Lupercalia, the day for ‘love lotteries’.
On this day young Roman boys drew lots with the name of young girls written on slips of paper. The girl’s name a boy picked partnered him throughout the festival and sometimes even ended up marrying him.
Love Letter From Jail
Another story goes that Saint Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter who befriended him during his imprisonment. He signed it ‘From your Valentine’. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honour him.
St. Valentine - a Priest?
Yet another legend has it that St. Valentine was a temple priest in the times of the Roman emperor Claudius the Second. The emperor known as Claudius the Cruel cancelled all marriages and engagements in the belief that the Romans were unwilling to serve in his military campaigns because they did not wish to leave their loves and families behind. St. Valentine secretly married couples and it was for this he was imprisoned and beheaded.
And this is how February 14 gradually came to be known as Valentine’s Day and he became the patron saint of lovers. Simple gifts of poems, flowers and candy were exchanged on this day between lovers
only until the tradition also encompassed the gifting Valentines to parents and friends.
Here’s a curious thought:
Valentine’s Day originated from the ancient belief that birds and especially lovebirds began to mate on February 14th!
Children Dressed As Adults on Valentine's Day
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home much like Christmas carolers and one verse they sang was:
Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine---
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, Valentine.
Gift of Clothing
In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.
"You Unlock My Heart"
In Wales lovers carved wooden spoons,decorated them with hearts, keys and keyholes and gifted them to each other on February 14th. The motifs meant "You unlock my heart!"
Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve
There is a curious origin to the phrase ‘Wear your heart on your sleeve’. In the Middle Ages, young men and women indulged in the ‘love lotteries’ too and wore the names they drew on their sleeves for one week. Today to wear your heart on your sleeve means that it is easy for other people to know what your feelings are.
Some people believed that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.
Whom Will You Marry?
Would you like to know who you’ll marry? One way of finding out is by thinking of five or six names of people you’d like to marry. As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.