• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about the origin and folklore surrounding St. Valentine's day.


CURWOOD: February fourteenth is the holiday of love, though it honors a man who died on that day. St. Valentine was beheaded on February fourteenth in the year 269 A.D. Emperor Claudius of Rome ordered the execution because the saint was caught performing marriages during wartime, which was outlawed, and so the day's association with lovers. The celebration of love on February fourteenth continued in Medieval Europe in conjunction with the mating habits of birds. Several writers note the seasonal milestone. An excerpt from this translation of Chaucer's The Parliament of Fowls reads, "For this was on St. Valentine's great day, when every bird comes forth for pairing's sake, of every kind that man imagine may, and think how huge a clamor did they make." It was custom for young women to foretell what type of man they would marry by what type of bird they first saw on the fourteenth. For instance, if she spotted a yellow bird such as a goldfinch, she would marry a rich man. If she saw a sparrow, she'd wed a farmer. A dove meant a good man. A crossbill an argumentative man. And if she spied a woodpecker, well, then, she never would have a husband. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth