Valentine Day Traditions
A variety of interesting Valentine's Day traditions developed over time. For example, hundreds of years ago in England, children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day and went singing holiday verses from door to door. In Wales, wooden love spoons, carved with key, keyhole and heart designs, were given as gifts.
The gift of flowers on Valentine's Day probably dates to the early 1700s when Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical art called "the language of flowers" to Europe. Throughout the 18th century, floral lexicons were published, allowing secrets to be exchanged with a lily or lilac, and entire conversations to take place in a bouquet of flowers. The more popular the flower, the more traditions and meanings have been associated with it.
The rose, representing love, is probably the only flower with a meaning that is universally understood. The red rose remains the most popular flower bought by men in the United States for their sweethearts. In more recent years, people have sent their sweethearts their favorite flowers, rather than automatically opting for roses. Also making the list of valentine favorites are tulips, lilies, daisies and carnations.
Among early valentine gifts were candies, usually chocolates, in heart-shaped boxes. Companies like Godiva Chocolates have made high quality chocolate in artistic designs and elegant wrappings a traditional valentine's gift.
World Valentine Traditions and Rituals
· In Great Britain during the 1700s, one very popular custom on the Eve of Valentine's
Day, was for ladies to pin five bay leaves sprinkled with rose water to their pillows...one
leaf pinned to the center and one to each corner. Eggs with salt replacing the removed
yokes were then consumed before retiring for the evening. Before going to sleep, the lady
would recite the following little prayer: "Good valentine, be kind to me; In dreams, let
me my true love see." If this charm worked, then the lady would see her future husband
in her dreams.
· In Great Britain, a woman would write the names of their sweethearts on small scraps of
paper, which would be placed on clay balls. The balls were dropped into water with the
belief that whichever scrap of paper surfaced first would be the name of the man destined
to be the future husband.
· In England, centuries ago, children would dress up as adults and go singing from home to
home. One such verse was:
"Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine--
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine."
· An old English custom was for people to call out, "Good morning, 'tis St. Valentine's
Day." The individual who succeeded in being the first to say this then expected to receive
a present from the one to whom it was said.
· By tradition, a young girl was supposed to eventually marry the first eligible male she
met on Valentine's Day.
· Traditionally, if a young female is curious enough...and brave enough...she can conjure-up the appearance of her future spouse by visiting a graveyard at midnight on the Eve of
Saint Valentine's Day and singing a prescribed chant while running around the church
· In Wales, wooden love spoons would be carved and given as gifts. Favored decorations
for the spoons were hearts, keys and keyholes...the decorations meaning, "You unlock my
· In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see
who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves
for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for
other people to know how you are feeling.
· A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide
dress. Later, the love seat or courting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together -- but not too closely!
· Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might 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.
· One of the most ancient of Valentine's Days rituals (dating from at least the Middle Ages
and possibly earlier) was the practice of writing the names of young ladies on slips of
paper and placing them within a jar or bowl. The lady whose name was drawn by an
eligible bachelor became his valentine and he wore the name on his sleeve for one week.
It is believed that the saying "to wear one's heart on one's sleeve" (meaning that is is easy
for others to know the romantic inclination of an individual) may have originated from
· It was once believed that if a woman noticed a robin flying overhead on Valentine's Day,
it meant she would marry a sailor. If the woman saw a sparrow, the would marry a poor
man, but be very happy. If she spied a goldfinch, it was said that her husband would be a
man of great wealth.
· In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a prospective
suitor. If the gift is kept, then it means she has accepted his proposal of marriage.
· If an individual thinks of five or six names considered to be suitable marriage partners
and twists the stem of an apple while the names are being recited, then it is believed the
eventual spouse will be the one whose name was recited at the moment the stem broke.
· If an apple is cut in half, the number of seeds found inside the fruit will be an indication
of the number of children that individual will have.
· If a dandelion, which has gone to seed, is picked and an individual blows the seeds into
the wind, the number of seeds, which remain on the stem, indicates the number of
children that person will have.
· In the Fourteenth Century, a sweetheart was chosen for the day by lot. Messages sent
between these randomly chosen pairs are believed by some sources to be the forerunner
of the modern day Valentine card.
· In "The Golden Bough" authored by Sir James Frazer, it is written that during a pre-Lenten celebration in the town of Йpinal in the Vosges region of France, bonfires were
kindled and young townsfolk went from door-to-door pairing-up couples who were then
forced to participate in a mock marriage. Later required to walk arm-in-arm around the
fire, these couples exchanged gifts intended as ransom or redemption. The gifts were
known as fйchenots and fйchenottes...or Valentines.
· To be awoken by a kiss on Valentine's Day is considered lucky.
· For a lady to sleep with a sprig of rosemary pinned inside the pillow on the Eve of
Valentine's Day was once thought to encourage dreams of a future sweetheart's face.
· In Britain and Italy, some unmarried women would rise before sunrise on Valentine's
Day and stand by the window watching for a man to pass. It was believed that the first
man seen...or someone who looked very much like him...would be their husband within a
· In Denmark, it is customary to send pressed white flowers called snowdrops to friends.