You were wondering, weren’t you?
Did Geoffrey Chaucer invent Valentine’s Day? Yes and no.
St Valentine’s Day has been marked in liturgical calendars for centuries. As a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day actually commemorates two Saint Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. (The Catholic Encyclopedia even speaks of a third Saint Valentine, who was martyred in Africa, but little else is known about him.)
But Valentine’s Day only became associated with romantic love during the late fourteenth century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, made the association in his poem ‘The Parlement of Foules’, written some time in the 1380s, possibly in 1382. The poem features a parliament, or assembly, of birds, which have gathered together in order to choose their mates. As Chaucer’s narrator remarks, ‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’ However, several of Chaucer’s contemporaries also wrote poems…
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3 responses to “The Literary Origins of Valentine’s Day”
I had read about this poem recently, but it wasn’t in the Chaucer I studied in English lit. How interesting that you delved deeper and found this information, then shared it. Thanks!
Right. At best we read a couple of the Canterbury Tales. Even in a graduate Chaucer class, I don’t remember reading the Parliament of Fowls.
how fun to learn more about this “holiday” so to speak..thanks