Who or What was Saint Valentine?

Well, no one really knows! Saint Valentine’s Day, celebrated on the 14th of February each year, is named after one or more early Christian martyr. Is seems there were a few early Christians named Valentine; Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep Interamnensis m. Romae) being the most well remembered ones. Valentine of Rome was a priest who was martyred around AD 270. But neither of these Valentines were associated with Romance.

February during the Greco-Roman time was a period popular with fertility rites. The most well known of these was Lupercalia: a festival local to the city of Rome which usually happened from February 13 -15th. This was quite a barbaric and pagan festival and was banned by Pope Gelasius around 495.

The first provable links  between Saint Valentine and Romance were introduced by the English Medieval Poet Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote in ‘The parlament of Foules’;

For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

[“for this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”]

During the middle ages it was commonly believed that mid-February was when birds started their mating season. A bit unlikely in this weather!

So, dear LTC student, whatever the history February 14th is a great excuse to go and do something fun and romantic with your special person or your friends. Here are some options you can try out in London over the coming week:

Start your afternoon off at  Leighton House; a charming museum designed and lived in by the father of the Pre-Raphaelite painters Lord Leighton.

Take your beloved on a Romantic London sky ride on The London Eye

Try some late night Cabaret and dancing at the wonderfully intimate Madam Jojo’s in Soho to finish off your night.

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