How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Valentine’s Day in the UK can be celebrated in a few different ways. Some people celebrate with their partner, some with their friends and some don’t celebrate at all!
Do you know the origins of the celebration? It has roots in Lupercalia, a Roman festival to celebrate the coming of Spring. The celebration included fertility rites and the pairing of woman with man by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until 14th century when it began to be celebrated as a day of romance.
The first real association of St. Valentine’s Day with romantic love, or ‘love birds’, derives from Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Parlement of Foule’s. In 1382, Chaucer celebrated the engagement of the 15 year-old King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia with a poem, in which he wrote: For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird (fowl) cometh to choose his mate.
However, some previous written evidence exists from a Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orléans, who wrote a letter to his beloved while he was in prison. He wrote from his cell a poem about his feelings about his feelings about his wife, referring to her as “my very sweet Valentine”.
By 1601, William Shakespeare makes mention of it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine.
The passing of love-notes between lovers appears to have become standard practice copying the main characters of The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, a book from the end of the XVII Century. This useful contain gems of sentimental rhymes and ditties written with the goal of helping young gentlemen in love to draw the attention of their Juliets.
The commercial aspect of the celebrations also appears to be increasing year on year, with gifts of chocolates, flowers and even jewellery now being expected to accompany the simple St. Valentine’s Day card. Today British people spend around £1.3 billion each year on their very own special Valentine.