Of Valentine-Day

It is a Ceremony, never omitted among the Vulgar, to draw Lots, which they Term Valentines, on the Eve before Valentine-day. The Names of a ſelect Number of one Sex, are by an equal Number of the other put into some Veſſel ; and after that, every one draws a Name, which for the preſent is called their Valentine, and is alſo look’d upon as a good Omen of their being Man and Wife afterwards.[1]

Margery_Brews_to_John_Paston_Valentine's_letter_c1477_01aValentine letter written by Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston, February 1477.

In her letter, Margery describes John as her “right well-beloved Valentine”. She goes on to say “I am not in good health of body nor of heart, nor shall I be till I hear from you.” She explains that her mother tried – so far unsuccessfully – to persuade her father to increase her dowry. However, she claims “But if you love me, as I trust verily that you do, you will not leave me therefore.” The couple eventually married.

There is a rural Tradition, that on this Day every Bird chuſes its Mate. From this perhaps the youthful Part of the World hath firſt practiſed this Cuſtom, ſo common at this Seaſon. [2]

Jack Plane

[1] Henry Bourne M.A., Antiquitates Vulgares: or, The Antiquities of the Common People, J. White, Newcastle, 1725, pp. 174-5.

[2] ibid.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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