Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Chaucer, mating birds, a fertility festival: Valentine’s Day

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
— Chaucer, Parlement of Foules, c.1381

Valentine is a name (usually masculine) derived from the Roman family name Valentinus, which in turn comes from the Latin word valens meaning “strong, vigorous and healthy”. Valentine was the name of several saints of the Roman Catholic Church. As an English Christian name, Valentine has been used occasionally since the 12th century; it was first recorded as a given name in Wiltshire’s Curia Rolls in 1198 — as Valentinus. The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th century.

How did St. Valentine’s Day (on February 14) come to be associated with romantic love? It certainly has nothing to do with the name Valentine itself.  There was a Saint Valentine, a 3rd-century saint and martyr ,whose feast day fell on February 14 — a day before the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia that was observed on February 15. With the rise of Christianity in Europe, pagan holidays were often renamed for and even moved to the feast days of early Christian martyrs in order to boost participation and involvement in church occasions, so it’s possible that the fertility festival and Valentine’s feast day became one — and so assumed the notions of romantic love associated with mating and fertility.

As Chaucer wrote in his Parlement of Foules in the late 14th century, Valentines was the day in early spring on which birds would choose their mates; some argue that this was the reason for Valentine’s Day — named after the saint and his feast day — to be thought of as one of love.



The language of love


It’s Valentine’s Day. Here’s how to say those three little words in 44 different languages:

Afrikaans: Ek is lief vir jou

Bulgarian: Obicham te

Bangla: Ami tumake Bhalobashi

Cantonese: Ngo oi nei

Catalan: T’estimo

Croatian: Volim te

Czech: Miluji te

Danish: Jeg elsker dig

Dutch: Ik hou van je

English: I love you

Esperanto: Mi amas vin

Estonian: Ma armastan sind

Ethiopian (Amharic): Ewedishale hu

Farsi: Dooset daram

Filipino: Mahal kita

Finnish: Rakastan sinua

French: Je t’aime

German: Ich liebe dich

Greek: S’agapao

Haitian creole: Mwen renmen ou

Hawaiian: Aloha Au Ia’oe

Hebrew: Ani ohev otach (man to woman); Ani ohevet ot’cha (woman to man)

Hindi: Mai tumse pyar kartaa hoo (man to woman); Mai tumse pyar karti hoo (woman to man)

Hungarian: Szeretlek

Icelandic: Ég elska þig

Indonesian: Aku mencintaimu

Irish: Tá grá agam duit

Italian: Ti amo

Japanese: Ai shi teru

Korean: Saranghae

Latin: Te amo

Mandarin: Wo ai ni

Norwegian: Jeg elsker deg

Polish: Ja cie kocham

Portuguese: Eu te amo

Romanian: Te iubesc

Russian: Ya tebya liubliu

Serbian: Volim te

Slovenian: Ljubim te

Spanish: Te amo

Swedish: Jag älskar dig

Turkish: Seni seviyorum

Vietnamese: Em yeu anh (woman to man); Anh yeu em (man to woman)

Welsh: Rwy’n dy garu di, or Rwy’n caru ti