British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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104                                  ST. VALENTINE'S DAY.                      [FEB. 14.
the names of girls to be admired or attended on by them; and to abolish it, he changed it into giving billet' with the names of certain saints for them to honour and imitate in a particular manner,'5
To the drawing of namesóthose of the saints gave way to living objects of adorationówas first added, in 1667, a custom out of which has sprung the modern epistolary Valentine, In the February of that year Pepys writes:
"I do first observe the fashion of drawing of mottoes as well as names; so that Pierce, who drew my wife's, did draw also a motto, c most courteous and most fair;' which, as it may be used, or an anagram made upon each name, might be very pretty."
The Valentines of chance were those who drew names; the Valentines by choice were made by those who could not open their eyes on Valentine's morn till the one he or she most desired to see was near. The one by chance sometimes proved to be the one by choice also, and such were true Valentines. N. & Q. 4th S. vol. xi. p. 129, 130.
Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, tells us that in February young persons draw Valentines, and from thence collect their future fortune in the nuptial state; and Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, describing the manners of some parties, tells us they sent true-love knots on Valentine morning.
St. Valentine's Day is alluded to by Shakspeare and by Chaucer, and also by the poet Lydgate, the monk of Bury (who died in 1440). One of the earliest known writers of Valentines was Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was taken at the Battle of Agincourt. See Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 215.
A singular custom prevailed many years ago in the west of England. Three single young men went out together before daylight on St. Valentine's Day, with a clap-net to catch an old owl and two sparrows in a neighbouring barn. If they were successful and could bring the birds without injury to the inn before the females of the house had risen, they Mere rewarded by the hostess with three pots of purl in honour of St. Valentine, and enjoyed the privilege of demanding at any house in the neighbourhood a similar boon. This was done
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