Saint Valentine in 1754

14 Feb

Saint Valentine kneeling

Instead of writing the expected “Valentine in Canada‘s history”-type of post, I decided instead to give you a piece written in the The Canadian Queen [Monthly Magazine] (58 Bay St., Toronto; Vol. 3, No. 2, pp 72, February 1891 issue).  I accessed this at on February 10, 2013, ident: 8_06638_6.


SAINT VALENTINE was a priest, famed for his love and charity to all mankind, and during the Claudian persecution he met a martyr’s death, a very terrible one, being first beaten with clubs and then beheaded. In view of this it is rather strange that we should celebrate his day the way we do. To bear this good man in mind, it is said that on the 14th of February, the day he suffered martyrdom, the young people choose their loves for the ensuing year. Again others say the custom arose from the a practice, common in ancient Rome, which was that at the feasts in honour of Pan and Juno, the names of ladies were put into a box from which the gentlemen drew them. The pastors of the early Christian church did not view with favour this ceremony, but finding it impossible to extirpate it they changed its form, and on February 14th, both ladies and gentlemen placed their names on pieces of paper, which were deposited in an urn and each drew a name. The person whose name was thus drawn was the Valentine for the ensuing year. Another and more common reason given for the custom was that on the 14th of February the birds choose their mates. At all events, whatever the origin of the day, the observance of it is general, and there is no saint more popular than Valentine. Love was supposed to be connected in some way with this, and it was the destined husband or wife.

In a publication of 1754, a young lady gives her experience in this matter as follows: “Last Friday was Valentine’s Day; and the night before, I got five bay-leaves and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth in the middle, and then if I dreamed of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make more sure, I boiled an egg hard, took out the yolk, and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed ate it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers’ names upon bits of paper and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water, and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine. Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay abed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house, for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.”

In England and Scotland, in the early part of last century, the young people assembled on St. Valentine‘s Eve for the purpose of drawing names, the young bachelor calling the maid, whose name he had drawn, his Valentine, and she terming him her Fortune. After this drawing, a succession of parties ensued, given by the young people, the ladies wearing the names they had drawn pinned to their sleeves.”


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16 responses to “Saint Valentine in 1754

  1. almafication

    February 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    A very interesting read, I had no idea! Thank you for sharing and I hope you’re enjoying a brilliant Saturday!

    • tkmorin

      February 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Thank you! There’s fresh snow falling out there, but it’s nice and warm inside! 🙂

      • almafication

        February 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

        It was snowing earlier this week here, though a little milder temperature now. Warm and cosy at home too 🙂 Much thanks to the burning candles!

  2. divinerush ღ

    February 18, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Interesting! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • tkmorin

      February 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

      You are welcome! 🙂

      • Divine Rush

        February 23, 2013 at 3:58 am


  3. Norbert Haupt

    February 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Norbert Haupt and commented:
    Comments on the origin of Valentine’s day.

  4. Matt's Tale

    February 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Hmmm, I like the not the story of the lady in 1754 – not just dreams of love, but PROACTIVE dreams of love, herbally induced, and leading to her coming up with the name of the man. That’s perhaps better than the name of a man out of a box! 😉

    P.S. Thank you for liking Cindy’s and blog on The Road to Canterbury in the footsteps of Chaucer – if we ever find a Canadian connection in it then I will let you know, and trust you will do the same if – perchance – you come across something Canadian that has to do with a “road to Canterbury” experience or otherwise something that relates to Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales

    • tkmorin

      February 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Thank you for the visit, comment and kind words. Re Canterbury, I love a challenge like that!! 🙂

  5. seeker

    February 16, 2013 at 9:22 am

    That is a very interesting tradition, but I wouldn’t eat the eggshells. Great Post, TK. It’s a history that is worth remembering and retold. Happy Valentines, belated. Mind you, everyday is valentines for me.

    • tkmorin

      February 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Eggshells … Can you imagine? I was surprised when I read that, as well as a few other “traditions” there. It emphasizes a different time, eh?

  6. aleks4775

    February 14, 2013 at 10:12 am

    This is an awesome blog! I am glad I found it

    • tkmorin

      February 14, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Thanks! I am glad you like it 🙂

      • aleks4775

        February 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

        I am wondering, how did you found my blog?

        • tkmorin

          February 14, 2013 at 11:18 am

          When I have time to read from the Internet, I’ll do a search for the keyword “history” because I enjoy that topic … You have interesting posts, so I “like” it! 🙂

          • aleks4775

            February 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

            Ohh, never knew someone would find my blog through global search XD


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