Portsmouth NH 1846: Customs of Valentine’s Day

From: Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics (Portsmouth NH) Vol LVII, Issue 7, Page 3  — Saturday, February 14, 1846flower opening

VALENTINE’S DAY — It is a popular superstition that the first two single people who meet in the morning of St. Valentine’s Day (February 14th) may have a chance of becoming married to each other. St. Valentine’s day has long been imagined the day whereon birds pair, and hence it has been considered peculiarly ominous to lovers, so that billets doux sent on this day, have received the cognomen of the saint.  The custom of choosing Valentines is an old one; it was practised in the houses of the gentry of England as early as 1476, and is referred to in the Harleian MS by John Lydgate, the monk of Bury, in a poem written by him in praise of Queen Catherine, wife of Henry V.:

 “Scynte Valentine, of custom yeere by yeere
 Men have an usuance in this regioun
To loke and serche Cupides kalendere,
And chose theyr choyse by grete affeccion.
Such as ben prike with Cupides mocioun,
Takyng theyre choyse as theyre sort doth falle;
But I love oon which excellith alle.”

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