Love comforteth like sunshine after rain
Shakespeare Venus and Adonis (1593)
Love is like a ghost, and brooks
Only the chosen seer’s eye.
Coventry Patmore The Angel in the House (1854-1862)
Love’s like the measles – all the worse when it comes late in life
The Wit and Opinions of Douglas Jerrold ‘Love’ (1859)
Amor vincit omnia – Love conquers all
Love is the fart
Of every heart:
It pains a man when ‘tis kept close,
And others doth offend, when ‘tis let loose.
Sir John Suckling Love’s Offence (1646)
Loves’s tongue is in the eyes
Phineas Fletcher 1633 Piscatory Eclogues (1633)
Love is, above all, the gift of oneself
Jean Anouilh Ardele (1949)
Whatever your personal definition of love, and whether you think Valentine’s Day is all commercial hype and a money-making con, or the perfect opportunity to express your feelings for a loved one; there’s no doubt that Valentine’s Day has become a significant day in the UK calendar of celebrations. In terms of greeting card sales, it’s second only to Christmas.
The tradition of exchanging Valentine gifts is said to have originated in the later middle ages, when it was believed that the 14th February marks the beginning of the mating season for birds – thus the day became associated with love and romance.
There is some doubt about the identity of Saint Valentine and his association with Valentine’s Day. He might have been a Roman priest and Christian martyr, said to have been executed during the persecution inaugurated under Claudius II the Goth; however, there are claims that he might have been Valentine, Bishop of Turni, who was martyred in Rome.
On the 14th February many people will be declaring their love for each other by sending Valentine cards, chocolates, flowers and other gifts. Some will go for a meal, others might even wax lyrical with a little poetry, or pen a billet-doux to their beloved. In these times of emailing and texting I imagine the art of love-letter writing might be on the decline, which is a great pity. What better way to express your love than a personal message to the one who has stolen your heart? The British Library holds the oldest known Valentine’s message written in English – written in 1477 by Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston. Here are some excerpts from her letter:
Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved valentine, I recommend me unto you full heartedly, desiring to hear of your welfare, which I beseech Almighty God long for to preserve unto his pleasure and your hearts desire…….
For even if you had not half the livelihood that you have, for to do the greatest labour that any woman alive might, I would not forsake you……
My heart me bids evermore to love you truly over all earthly things…..
And I beseech you that this bill be not seen by any non earthly creature save only yourself.
Margery Brews could not have imagined that her very personal Valentine message would one day be available for the whole world to see. Margery and John had their happy ending and were married and had two children.
This Valentine’s Day, why not write the love of your life a letter, or send something personal and unique like a personalized Valentine’s card?
Guest post written by Angela Boothroyd from Studying Online – Online English lessons, for speakers of other languages.
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Read Angela’s blog – Exploring the English language and how to use it
Image © Anita Hunt www.sendaflowercard.com