Valentines Day Traditions You May Not Know

The modern “Western” traditions around St Valentine’s Day are pretty well known –exchanging cards and gifts, going out on dates, and maybe let that secret crush know that you’ve got eyes for them. It’s not always been so straight forward. Here are five Valentine ’s Day traditions that you may not know. Now – how many of these do with wish were still around?

- Birds used to play a big part in Valentine’s Day superstition and traditions. In the United Kingdom, if a single woman saw a robin flying overhead on February 14th, it meant that she was going to marry a sailor. If it was a sparrow instead of a robin, that meant she would wed a poor man, but she would be in a happy marriage. If a goldfinch flew overhead, that meant she would marry a man who was rich. (No mention if the rich marriage would be as happy as the poor one, though!)

- Back in the Middle Ages, unmarried ladies and gentlemen drew names out of a bowl to determine who would be their Valentine. Once these named were pulled, they were pinned to their sleeves and were worn around for an entire week. While this tradition isn’t the source for the phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve”, it may have been based on it.

- Younger ladies had their own traditions when it came to predicting their future husbands on Valentine’s Day. If a lady had multiple suitors vying for her attention, she would have all their names written down on slips of paper. She’d then wrap each piece in clay, and place those pieces into a pot of water. The first name to be dissolved from the clay and float to the surface of the water would have the name of her future husband.

- In the small country of Wales, Valentine’s Day gifts took on a unique, handmade twist. The men would carve wooden spoons with special symbols in them to signify their feelings. Some of these symbols had much deeper meanings – such as a carving keys, locks and hearts to represent someone ‘unlocking their heart’.- In Elizabethan times, ladies didn’t mess around when it came to asking men for gifts on Valentine’s Day. In the last 16th century, gloves were shifting from being a men’s-only accessory to one that women were starting to wear. They were so desired that a little rhyme came about that women would say to men – “Good-morrow Valentine, I go today; To wear for you, what you must pay; A pair of gloves next Easter Day” – in order to squeeze a gift from them. If the lucky lady received a pair and wore them on Easter, it was a sign that the gentleman gifter was in the good books.