Every would be Romeo knows the meaning and significance of Valentine’s Day but why does a celibate Roman Catholic priest become a symbol of love? The 14th February is the feast day of St Valentine who was martyred for his beliefs but there is no record of any acts that made him known for romantic love. Indeed, it was 1100 years after his death that the day began to be marked as a day for lovers.
By mid - February spring is beginning to make itself felt; lambs are gambolling and birds are singing; love and fun are in the air - so it’s the perfect time for a lover’s day.
Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with creating the link between St Valentine and Lovers by publishing his poem, The Parliament of Fowls, which debates various issues before the birds are encouraged not to delay in choosing their mates. There is also a section of the poem which praises St Valentine and looks forward to summer. It is believed these two ideas, the pairing off throughout the animal kingdom, that is so much a part of spring, and the feast Day of St Valentine became linked together. The 14th February therefore became the symbolic day for lovers to get together and share their love for each other.
In Wales, 25th January is the national day for lovers and is known as St Dwynwen's Day. Dwynwen was almost a contemporary of St Valentine and her story has much in common with Shakespeare’s tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet.
Dwynwen was a Princess, like her 23 sisters, but fell in love with a local lad rather than the prince that her father wanted her to marry. After taking a potion to forget her lover he was somehow turned into a block of ice. She then asked God to grant her 3 wishes. Oddly, as well as thawing her lover, she wished she would never marry, though it was her middle wish which was significant. Dwynwen wished that God would grant the hopes and dreams of all true lovers. Based on the success of her first wish she believed all 3 had been granted, so to show her thanks, she became a nun committing her life to God and was canonised for her devotion. The ruins of the church she is supposed to have built can still be seen at Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey.
Finally, a word about Cupid, or to give him his Greek name Eros. Eros was the son of Aphrodite the Goddess of love, beauty and desire and from whom we get the term aphrodisiac. Her son, Eros, was the god of physical desire. He was depicted with a bow and arrow and if one of his arrows hit you, the next person you saw would be the person you would fall in love with. Love was blind, random and beyond your control. This was love at first sight.
If you are planning to use St Valentine's Day to woo your partner you could do worse than include a poem in your flertations, there are some good one's on our Poetry page if you need inspiration. You could do worse than quote a line from a song:- 'If you let me be in your dreams I will let you be in mine' is a brilliant line from Bob Dylan which worked for me! Or you could just express yourself in a light hearted way by comining up with your own version of 'You are the colours of my Rainbow - You are the tick to my tock - the sea to my shore' etc. Good luck!