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 Canadiana.org on February 10, 2013, ident: 8_06638_6.
“ST. VALENTINE’S DAY
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.”