To be honest, one of our favourite things about St. Valentine’s Day is that it means spring is just around the corner. Valentine’s Dayroots lie in Lupercalia, a pagan pre-spring cleansing festival that was celebrated February 13th to 15th and whose rituals would rid towns of evil spirits and promote health and fertility for the change of season.
Christians later borrowed the date to commemorate various saints who bore the name Valentinus between the 3rd and 5th centuries. One such martyr was St Valentine of Rome. It’s thought he would perform weddings for Christian soldiers who, under Roman rule, were forbidden to marry. When he was imprisoned for ministering the weddings he then fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and wrote her a love letter just before his execution, signed ‘Your Valentine’.
The saint's remains were sent to Dublin and his relics still reside here, in the Whitefriar St Church just up the road from Designist on Aungier St. Every year couples visit the church on February 14th to garner some auspicious luck for their relationship or light a candle in front of St. Valentine’s statue.
But it was poet and ‘father of English literature’, Geoffrey Chaucher (of Canterbury Tales fame) who really and truly crystalised the association of St Valentine’s Day with romantic love when, in 1382, he wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
[“For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
when every bird comes to choose his mate”]
Over the subsequent centuries people have increasingly adopted and reinforced the romantic take on St. Valentine’s Day, from Ophelia desperately hoping to be Hamlet’s Valentine to Lisa Simpson giving Ralph Wiggum a piteous Valentines card reading ‘I Choo-Choo-Choose You’.
Whatever the history and whether it’s for your better half, your friend, your mam or dad, or your best behaved goldfish, we certainly agree that love is a wonderful thing. So why not spread of little of that warm and mushy stuff with us this Valentine’s Day?!