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Valentine's Day. The time of year when love is in the air, and florists start seeing dollar signs. But have you ever stopped to wonder how this holiday of hearts, flowers, and overpriced chocolates came to be?

Legend has it that Valentine's Day traces its roots back to ancient Rome. There are a couple of different origin stories floating around, but one involves a Christian martyr named St. Valentine who was executed by Emperor Claudius II for secretly marrying couples against his decree. 

Another tale suggests that Valentine was a rebel saint who defied the Emperor's orders and continued to perform marriages in secret because, well, love conquers all. 

St. Valentine, the mysterious figure at the heart of Valentine's Day, has captured the imagination of romantics and historians alike. While the details of his life are shrouded in mystery and legend, his legacy as the patron saint of love and affection has endured through the ages.

Let's explore the different stories. 



This happened during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. According to legend, Claudius outlawed marriage for young men, believing that single soldiers made better warriors than those with wives and families. But in an act of defiance against the emperor's decree, Valentine continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret.

When Claudius discovered Valentine's clandestine ceremonies, he ordered the priest arrested and sentenced to death. While awaiting his fate in prison, Valentine is said to have befriended his jailer's daughter, who was blind. Through his prayers and companionship, he miraculously restored her sight, a gesture that reportedly led to her conversion to Christianity.

He was decapitated on 14 February in the year AD 269. He was taken outside the Flaminian Gate, beaten severely, and decapitated. and buried at a Christian cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of the city and the date has been kept for the Feast of St Valentine ever since it was first inaugurated by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD in tribute to his memory.

Fast forward to medieval Europe.

Enter Geoffrey Chaucer, who may have single-handedly brought Valentine's Day into the spotlight with his poem "Parlement of Foules" (yes, that's spelled correctly). 


The poem uses allegory, and incorporates elements of irony and satire as it points to the inauthentic quality of courtly love. Chaucer was well acquainted with the theme firsthand—during his service to the court and his marriage of convenience to a woman whose social standing served to elevate his own.

Essentially, the poem starts with a dream sequence. ( This is my interpretation of the poem. )

The dreamer sees himself led to the gates of hell. He passes through and is confronted with images of doomed lovers whose love and desire for normal lives is thwarted by those who consider themselves higher and mightier.

He moves on, out into the sunlight and finds himself in a court, where Mother Nature is convening a parliament where birds will all choose their mates. 

The kings of the sky, the eagles, get the pick of the female birds, despite the females not getting a say in the whole matter. The heirarchy of position and power is evident and profiting from a " good match " is rampant. As this progresses, the lowly non eagles all get pretty wound up and start to protest at the eagles' preferential treatment.  The scene descends into chaos as the birds bicker and shriek and it descends into a comedic parliamentary "debate."  Mother Nature intervenes and boots the high ranking eagles out and tells them to come back in a year when they have grown up.  Meanwhile the lowlier birds get to court and choose their mates.

Nature, as the true ruling authority, rules that mature thought and free will are prerequisites to a responsible society and that profit from partnerships should not take precedence over loving and meaningful relationships. 

The dreamer wakes up and realises that he still has a lot of growing up to do and heads back to his books to learn more and reflect on the scene he has just witnessed, where chaos is the inevitable outcome when greed and immaturity overtake commonsense and genuine love. 


As the centuries rolled on, Valentine's Day underwent various transformations, from handwritten love notes to Hallmark cards and heart-shaped everything. By the 19th century, the holiday had become synonymous with exchanging tokens of affection, flowers, and chocolates, thanks in part to the industrial revolution and the rise of mass-produced consumer goods. Because nothing says "I love you" like a box of chocolates that's been sitting on a store shelf for months........ 

Today, Valentine's Day has become a global phenomenon, with couples around the world exchanging gifts, dining at fancy restaurants, and posting nauseatingly sweet selfies on social media. 

Somehow, it seems somewhat removed from a story of a man who died defending the right to marry, healed a young woman from blindness and a poem written by Geoffrey Chaucer about a parliament of noisy birds squawking in the seats of government and forming partnerships for personal gain as opposed to, as Nature intends, the advancement of sincere love and attachment for the betterment of the community in general. 

I leave it up to you to decide.

For myself, I am with Mother Nature and, if I had my way, she would kick all the politicians out and tell them to come back when they have bloody grown up. 

Oh, and forget the cheap cards, cheesy memes and gratuitous Valentines Day declarations of love: give me a good solid man with a kind heart, a strong backbone and a hearty appetite who dishes up loyalty, love and support 365 days a year. 

Expensive flowers of the 14th of February wilt. True love grows and puts down roots. 






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