St. Valentine, Chaucer and the love birds

Contrary to popular belief, St Valentine had very little interest in love or lovers. Legend says he cured a young girl of blindness, converting her Roman family to Christianity and irritating the Emperor in the process. I’m sure there are more details but that’s the basic gist. He was decapitated on February 14 during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus around 269-270 A.D.

In fact, the love connection was made nearly 1,000 years after the Martyrs death by Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales. In his “Parlement of Foules”, he wrote:

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

which, translates (for those of you who have trouble deciphering old English) to:

for this was sent Valentine’s Day. When every bird comes there to chase his mate.”

Apparently, in Chaucer’s day, bird mating season started in February.  It wasn’t long before the European nobility began sending love notes during bird mating season.

And so began the tradition. Now you know.