There is speculation about the history of Valentine’s Day. But as with so many holidays that are steeped in the tradition of sacrifice, martyrdom, and blood, it seems to have originated with the Catholic Church and her attempt to hijack an otherwise pagan celebration. Despite the horrors upon which it was founded, there is a cheery aspect to it like Christmas stockings, Easter baskets, and Halloween treat bags that I find fun and charming.
I very much enjoyed cutting and pasting with my children when they were grade school age. Spools of lace and ribbon cluttered my Roche Bobois table that we all sat around, along with some of their friends, eating cookies and decorating the much-treasured, handmade cards. Sequins, glitter, pearls all attached to the card stock with glue, as well as affection and excitement as we all anticipated the delight with which they’d be received. An opportunity to give with one’s whole heart without fear of being made fun of. That table has traveled across the continent with us and you can still see the smudge where glue was spilled causing the finish to smear. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, its wear is an indication of its value.
It is agreed that Geoffrey Chaucer is the first known poet to be credited with a “Valentines’ Day Poem”. Several lines of it are found below in modern language, though the original is fun to read, too. I say, keep the candy and flowers; I don’t need jewels nor stuff. But write prose and lyrics that speak of your quenchless desire to twirl a tendril of my hair around your finger, losing yourself in the perfume of my skin, drowning in the abyss of burning passion, then resting in sweet reverie. And let it be spoken in the middle of a meadow where God’s creation is all about, with the warm sun tingling our skin and the fragrance of wild flowers competing with lust’s musk.
From “The Parliament of Fowls”
A garden saw I, full of blossomy boughs
Upon a river, in a green mead,
There as sweetness evermore enough is,
With flowers white, blue, yellow, and red,
And cold well-streams, nothing dead,
That swimming full of small fishes light,
With fins red and scales silver bright.
On every bough the birds heard I sing,
With voice of angels in their harmony;
Some busied themselves birds forth to bring;
The little coneys to here play did hie.
And further all about I could see
The dread filled roe, the buck, the hart and hind,
Squirrels, and beasts small of gentle kind.
Of instruments of strings in accord
Heard I so play a ravishing sweetness,
That God, that maker is of all and lord,
Had heard never better, as I guess.
Therewith a wind, scarcely it might be less,
Made in the leaves green a noise soft
Accordant to the fowls’ song aloft.
Th’air of that place so a-temperate was
That never was grievance of hot nor cold.
There wax also every wholesome spice and grass;
No man may there wax sick nor old;
Yet was there joy more a thousandfold
Than man can tell; never would it be night,
But always clear day to any man’s sight.