Valentine’s Day Tips from Medieval Lovers
In case you didn’t know, Valentine’s Day comes from two saints who fell into trouble with Roman official during the Middle Ages. Both men were named Valentine. But it was a poem written by Geoffrey Chaucer during the 14th century that made the first written reference to St. Valentine’s Day as a time for lovers.
The 700 line work includes a narrator reading Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis in order to learn some “certeyn thing” (people spelled things differently back then). Then the person falls asleep and Scipio Africanus the Elder appears to guide him up through the celestial spheres towards a gate promising a “welle of grace” and a stream that “ledeth to the sorweful were.”
The narrator then enters and passes through Venus’s dark temple full of doomed lovers. He eventually exits into the sunlight when Nature is convening at parliament where the birds all choose their mates. Hence, the notion of “love birds” took flight.
By the start of the 15th century, a society coined the “Court of Love” was established in France to distract society from the ongoing plague. Members were to meet in Paris for a supper on the night of February 14th each year. Male guests would bring a love song that they produced to be judged by an all-female panel. We can then assume that some pairing off occurred after this?
Anyway, let’s get to the tips:
Buy your partner a washbasin – although today it’s bad form to suggest your partner needs to wash up, back then it was an honor. People didn’t bathe very often, and when they did it wasn’t as simple as jumping into a shower. Washbasins are a thoughtful gift that will ensure your partner is leaps and bounds cleaner than the rest of the lot.
Personalizing their clothing – it doesn’t have to be fancy, even sewing a strand of hair onto his shirt can personalize your love like nothing else. In the 12th century romance of Cligés, they claim that a lover will never feel closer to you than when they’re strutting around sporting your hair.
Giving your heart to her, literally – you can try what Le Chastelain de Couci attempted, which is giving his heart to his lover. Yeah, maybe don’t try anything that literal.
Although the gifts have changed, the mentality hasn’t. Valentine’s Day has remained a time to embrace the special someone in your life no matter the weirdness of the gift or its cost.
If you’d like to spend experience a modern-day Medieval Valentine’s celebration, check out Medieval Times on the 14th.