Expand your U.K. IQ: Where the heart is
Turns out, Valentine’s Day really is for the birds.
Though reputedly originating from a Roman festival and an Italian martyr or two, the modern version of Valentine’s Day also has an English connection.
Using a St. Valentine’s feast as the setting for a poem called “The Parliament of Fowls,” English writer Geoffrey Chaucer of “The Canterbury Tales” fame also dubbed it the day that birds choose their mates for the year. In the 14th-century poem, he wrote, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”
Whether it was a popular belief that birds choose a mate on a certain day or Chaucer just made it up is somewhat unclear, but the path to card sellers’ livelihoods was laid.
One of the oldest known valentines — sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife in 1415 while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London — is in a collection at the British Library. And the Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, houses a shrine with the remains of St. Valentine himself inside.
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