Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14th, a day when cards, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did these traditions come from?
The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint is shrouded in mystery. There seem to be at least three different saints named Valentine all of whom were martyred. One was a priest who in Roman times conducted many a secret marriage, when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and consequently outlawed marriage for young men. One was a priest who attempted to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons whilst another was imprisoned himself and fell in love with his jailor’s daughter who was blind. Through the power of his faith and his compassion he restored her sight and before he was executed sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine.” So it is with love - that it opens our eyes to see things in someone that others may not see. In Waldorf schools across the world this day is celebrated in different ways or not at all. It can be time of unexpected joy but also a time when young hearts are disappointed. Some schools encourage children to make a card for every child in their class - writing something they love about each. Whilst this can be exhausting, it is also an opportunity to strengthen the children's perseverance and will.
By the time of Geoffrey Chaucer, in the thirteen hundreds, it was generally accepted as a truth that birds mated on this day each year; hence his poem called, “The Parliament of Fowls,” in which we are told of a royal engagement on this day, "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate."
In our May Tree Kindergarten it has become a tradition that the children colour sheep's wool with their beautiful natural wax crayons and hang it in the trees for the birds to find, collect and line their nests - making them pretty for their loved ones. We love this project and this year in lockdown have sent each child in our school some natural fleece so that we can all take part!