The shops are filling up with pink and red balloons, teddies and cards, so love – and birds nesting – must be in the air.
Valentine may have been a priest who continued to conduct marriages after Emperor Claudius II declared that his soldiers were to remain single. While in prison he fell in love with, or cured the blindness of, his jailer’s daughter and wrote her a note signed ‘your Valentine’. Or he might have been a bishop helping Christians escape Roman prisons and, presumably, leaving no note. No-one’s really sure which of several Valentines he was, as Valentine was a popular name at the time.
After becoming a saint, Valentine was not initially associated with love; 14 February was the day associated with the beginning of spring and when birds were thought to start seeking their mates. In Sussex, it was called ‘Birds’ Wedding Day’. The link with romance is not documented until 1382 when Chaucer wrote a poem linking birds and love with Valentine’s Day. It must have caught on pretty quickly though, as by 1415 Charles, Duke of Orleans is writing a poem to his wife referring to her as his ‘sweet Valentine’.
Birds feature again with Valentine’s Day superstitions; the first bird an unmarried girl saw on Valentine’s Day would indicate who she would marry – a robin for a sailor, a sparrow for a poor man or a goldfinch for a rich man.
The arrival of the penny post in 1840 heralded the beginning of mass-produced cards – all the more racy for their presumed anonymity – and with the Victorians came boxes of chocolate, with Cadbury creating the first Valentine’s Day box.
We may not be able to promise you romance or birds’ weddings, but we are sure you will love our records management. Give our friendly people a call on 0330 060 9158 and they will be able to tailor-make a plan for you to include any or all of our services.