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The way we were: Love’s labour

Extracts from writings about St Valentine’s Day

By Ian Irvine   February 2012

The Roman martyr St Valentine, commemorated on 14th February, the day of his burial

From The Oxford Companion to the Year (1999) by Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens:

St Valentine was a fourth-century Roman martyr with no obvious connection with lovers. The tradition that birds began to sing about this time gave rise in the late 14th century to a belief, attested by Chaucer in “The Parliament of Fowls” and contemporaries both English and French, that they chose their mates on 14 February… This amorous behaviour passed from birds to human beings; in modern times it has been exported to…

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