I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.
(WH Auden, in As I Walked Out One Evening, 1935)
Saint Valentine’s Day – also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine – is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church.
At last count, there were as many as three saints named Valentinus associated with 14 February, and up to eleven commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church on various days. But in the 1969 revision of the Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to local and regional calendars. (adapted from Wikipedia)
The Wikipedia article also explains that “The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as valentines).”
With Lent falling so early this year (Ash Wednesday yesterday), roses and chocolate might seem frivolously at odds with spiritual practice – but the florists and confectioners are counting on the commercialisation of courtly love.