By British Billy, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 11, 2011
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Like many males, I am not romantic by nature, preferring not to wear my heart on my fur. I can appear indifferent at times, prone to rub up against anyone who'll feed me. We Brits may not always be very demonstrative, but even our famous stiff upper lips can quiver passionately as Valentine's Day quickens our hearts.
The origins of St. Valentine's Day date back to Roman times, and stories vary as to how Valentine's name became associated with the date of Feb. 14. In ancient Rome, Feb. 14 was a holiday to honour Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the goddess of women and marriage. The story goes that Valentine was in prison for conducting secret Christian marriages, and, on the day he was put to death (Feb. 14), he left a note of thanks to the jailer's daughter, who had cheered him during his imprisonment. The note was signed, "From your Valentine".
I really wouldn't like to say, out of all the fine nations that form the British Isles, which one is the most romantic. The Welsh carve the most beautiful wooden love spoons which were traditionally given as gifts on Valentine's Day. Hearts, keys and keyholes are favourite decorations on the spoons, symbolizing the 'unlocking' of the beloved's heart.
The Irish and Scottish both claim to have St. Valentine's remains upon their soil. The Scots believe that they rest in the church of Blessed St. John Duns Scotus in Glasgow's Gorbals area, a little-known fact that has led to Glasgow styling itself as the 'City of Love' in recent years.
However, the Scottish claims to his mortal remains do not find favour across the Irish Sea where the bones of St. Valentine are said to repose in a casket held at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.
As there are 206 bones in the human body, then perhaps they are both correct.
The English are not renowned as a nation of great lovers, but this is probably a little unfair. Most regions have their own Valentine traditions and folklore.
For example, in Victorian times, Norfolk lovers went to great lengths to swap parcels anonymously on Feb. 13. Often more money was spent on Valentine's gifts than Christmas presents. Across the county, Valentine's Eve was as eagerly anticipated as Christmas Eve, and it was always good fun. People would fill a bag with love tokens to give away. When they arrived at the home of their lover, they would knock on the door, leave a present and run off before they were spotted. Hopefully, the valentine would be out, and you would return home to find your own doorstep covered with parcels.
These fine traditions should not be allowed to wither and die! Perhaps my Valentine will leave some tasty mousey morsels on my doorstep this Valentine's Day. After all, to know me is to love me.
Happy Valentine's Day!