Monday, 14 February 2011

"I'll Be Your Valentine..."

“If you will be mine.” Was this once a song or was it, “I’ll be your sweetheart if you will be mine?” That was a song remembered from the wartime years. Sixty years ago there was a school-days rhyme saved specially for St Valentine’s Day when young boys expressed their disgust at all things feminine.
“Roses are red,
violets are blue,
horses**t stinks
and so do you.”
How quickly their views changed in a few years time!
It’s strange to think that there were three St Valentines all martyred apparently on the fourteenth day in February. The origin of St Valentine’s Day is obscure and shrouded in fanciful legends. The holiday has it roots  in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. This pagan festival was designated a Christian feast day in circa 496 when Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day.
In “Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine” the 14th century scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly said it was Chaucer who first linked St Valentine’s Day with romance. In his 1381 poem “The Parliament of Foules” Chaucer associated the feast day with the royal engagement of Richard II with Anne of Bohemia and the mating of birds:
“For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
Over the years the day became special to lovers and as an occasion for love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. This practice may be found in both French and English literature of the 14th and 15th centuries, Those who chose each other under these circumstances have been called by each other their Valentines, In the “Paston Letters” Dame Elizabeth Brews wrote about a match she hoped to make for her daughter, “And cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if you like to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then. I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.”
Perhaps this is what has led to the popular belief that birds choose their mates on St Valentine’s Day.
By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States until the 1850s. Today, the holiday has become a commercial success, although some regard it as a nightmare.
With the advent of silent movies one Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla was one of the most popular stars of the 1920’s. The untimely death of Rudolph Valentino, know as the “Latin Lover” caused mass hysteria among his female fans and propelled him into icon status.
In 1929 the morning of Thursday 14th of February saw a much more macabre event in Chicago when six members of the “Bugs” Moran gang and a doctor were lined up against a garage wall and shot to death. This has been known ever since as the St Valentine’s Day Massacre – with no association with love.
Coincidentally, also in 1929, Richard Bryce was born in London. If you’ve never heard of Richard Bryce then you might recognise his stage name of Dicky Valentine, a popular singer of the 1950s. With a name like that it may be no surprise that he became a heartthrob for young girls and for some, not so young ladies, with his marriage causing scenes of hysteria. Like Valentino he came to tragic end – in a car crash in Wales.
However, if on this day of love, you must compose a verse for your Valentine beware you don’t choose one like this:
“Oh, Carol I do love you so.
I also love Becky and Jo,
they take it in turns
Fulfilling my yearns.
You’re jealous, don't tell me, I know”.


Ruchiraa said...

Did the composer of the last rhyme live after Carol heard/read it?

Bob Scotney said...

I think the composer was wise to remain anonymous.

Karen S. said...

Great information here Bob....I have always liked this day, except when you read about the not so good part of it...what I miss is making those shoe-box Valentine mailboxes in school....that was fun!


great post. some of it i already knew, but a few things not. if people find it now a nightmare, that is probably because they are mismatched... when you are with the right one, these things come more easily.
i'm just saying...

jakill said...

Bob, the song at the beginning goes:

"I'll be yoyur sweetheart
if you will be mine.
All my life
I'll be your valetnine..."

so both words are actually in there.