Valentine myths

2018-02-14 06:00

RED roses, hearts, cupids and chocolates are usually most closely associated with Valentine’s Day.

However, there is a different range of superstitions and folklore which have built up since it was first celebrated many hundreds of years ago.

• In the 1700s, a popular but complicated custom was for ladies to place five bay leaves, sprinkled with rose water, on their pillows. Before they went to bed they ate eggs with salt replacing the yolk (not very healthy!).

Say: “Good Valentine, be kind to me; in dreams, let me my true love see.” If this charm worked, then the lady would see her future husband in her dreams.

Much simpler was the tradition that a sprig of rosemary placed underneath the pillow would generate the same vision.

• Brave … or desperate? The image of a future husband could be generated by visiting a graveyard at midnight on Valentine’s Day and running around the church 12 times chanting.

• Wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve” is said to have originated as far back as the Middle Ages when ladies’ names were dropped into a bowl, then picked out by an eligible bachelor who wore the name on his sleeve for a week to indicate his interest.

• See a robin on the day and marry a sailor; sparrow, a poor man; squirrel, a cheapskate; blackbird, a clergyman, but if its an owl, remain a spinster.

• To be woken by a kiss on Valentine’s Day is considered lucky.

• In Britain and Italy, some unmarried women would rise before sunrise on Valentine’s Day and stand by the window watching for a man to pass. It was believed that the first man seen. would be their husband within a year.

• Using an “X” to represent a kiss began with the ancient practice of allowing those who could not write, to sign documents with an “X”. This was done prior to documents being witnessed and the signer would place a kiss upon the “X” to indicate sincerity.

• While red roses denote passion and love, other colours have meanings too: Coral — desire; Lavender — enchantment; Orange — fascination; White — innocence, purity, secrecy, silence, reverence, humility and true love; Black — Farewell.

• Another flower particularly associated with Valentine’s Day is the violet. The legend is violets grew outside the window of the jail where Saint Valentine was imprisoned. In the language of flowers, the violet is symbolic of faithfulness.

Various foods have also developed special meanings if eaten on the day: Noodles mean a long life together but only if strands are eaten unbroken. Cabbage means good luck and fortune. Pomegranate means fertility and abundance. Chocolate means romance and power.

Warning: It is estimated that 53% of women end a current relationship if they are not given a Valentine’s Day gift.

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