Superstitions Connected with Valentine's Day

In the Church calendar, February 14, is widely recognized as a day for the exchange of cards, red roses, and other gifts between lovers. Cards are by convention left unsigned, and much of the day is spent by recipients in delicious speculation about their identity (originally, the cards were designed and illustrated by the senders themselves).

Valentine's Day is, it is alleged, a good time to try to divine future parters. One tradition has it that if a girl leaves her house early in the morning that day and the first person she meets is a man, then she will be married within three months (quite possibly to that particular man). Her chances of meeting the love of her life may be enhanced if she wears a yellow crocus in her buttonhole, and further information may be gleaned about a future spouse by noting which species of bird she sees first. The following list suggests the interpretations to be made according to the bird spotted:

Blackbird: a clergyman.

Bluebird: a happy man or a poor man.

Crossbill: a quarrelsome man.

Dove: a good man.

Goldfinch: a rich man.

Robin: a sailor.

Sparrow: a farmer.

Woodpecker: nobody.

Less romantic is the tradition recorded in parts of eastern England that St. Valentine's Day is an auspicious occasion for the preparation of eels for the purpose of magic.

St. Valentine was a Christian martyr who was executed under the Roman Emperor Claudius II around 269 AD, apparently for opposing a ban on the marriage of young men of soldiering age. Perhaps not insignificant, the 14th of February was also the date when ancient Greeks honored the gods of women and marriage. According to medieval folklore, February 14 also marks the first day of the mating season among birds.

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