A tale of Valentine (Friends Day)
Today, as I looked out of the window and into the garden of our home for waifs and strays, I could not help but notice a subtle change. First, the seagulls came down in pairs, with their squawky, confident cries. Then came the starlings, looking and sounding chirpier than ever. The doves and the wood pigeons followed, in pairs of course and settled on a fence near the pond. The chaffinch, the greenfinch and the dunnock also paid a visit, as did the wren and the robin and my old and dearest friend, the blackbird. The crows and the jackdaws soon arrived and sat up in a tree preening for some event. And it seemed to began when I awoke very early, this morning.
It was still dark as my eyes looked towards the open window. There was something peculiar going on outside. The birdsong was different. Livelier, chirpier, sweeter! Love, I thought, was definitely in the air. I smiled to myself and listened with quiet breath, to nature.
Valentine’s Day is believed to have started around the time of the Roman Empire, when Claudius put a stop to his men marrying, believing it made them weak. However, Bishop Valentine performed marriage ceremonies and was sent to jail as a result. But the jailer had a daughter, who received a love letter from the Bishop, signed your Valentine. This did not help the Bishop and he was put to death, for this crime, on February 14th.
But for me, I like to think of Valentine’s Day as a promise of spring. It is around the 14th that the hens begin to lay their eggs again and birds pair up for mating. There have been many birds, the past few days, collecting bits and pieces for their nests. It’s such a joy to watch!
And I will leave you with a little something to think about. In Finland, just across the water, Valentine’s Day is called Ystavanpaiva (Friend’s Day) and is more about remembering friends than loved ones. However, I’m sure you can incorporate both!
Ayre is thy Diocese
And all the chirping Queristers
Thou marryest every yeare
The Lyrick Lark, and the graue whispering Doue,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for loue,
The houshold bird with the redd stomacher
Thou makst the Blackbird speede as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon
The Husband Cock lookes out and soone is spedd
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine
This day which might inflame thy selfe old Valentine.
—John Donne, Epithalamion Vpon Frederick Count Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth marryed on St. Valentines day