Today is ST. Valentines Day, so if you haven’t sent a loving sentiment to your mate, you can thank me for the reminder.
The holiday was first created to honor Christian Martyrs, and you can thank the Catholic church for that. It’s unknown which of the St. Valentines it is intended to honor, as there are many and the holiday dates back to 500AD. The honor was removed by the Catholic church some time later, though it was still celebrated unofficially after.
Valentines day, however, was not a romantic holiday. It had nothing to do with love or lovers or intimacy or any of that until a poet borrowed the holiday and made up a little line to honor King Richard II on his first anniversary with Anne of Bohemia. It was Chaucer who said it:
For this was seynt Volantnys 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.)
It is doubtful birds go anywhere to choose their mates on February 14th, but greeting card companies owe Geoffrey Chaucer a debt of gratitude for giving us a notion as to where and why they were flying. They do seem a little intent today, don’t they? And perhaps a little flustered and well groomed?
Chaucer, then, is the accidental creator of what we now know of as Valentines Day. I call him a creator because he spoke something into nothing. If there’s no romantic spark in your life, perhaps you can speak a little something into nothing today, too. Call her up, why don’t you? Tell her the bit about the birds. It worked for Richard II. And for Hallmark.