Home to the Letters of Love
As the birthplace of the “language of love” and the loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love,” France has long celebrated Valentine’s Day - La Saint-Valentin - as the day for lovers.
It is claimed that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415, and although card giving is not as popular as it once was, it has been replaced by another wonderful gift - treating one’s significant other to the wonders of the French cuisine.
One of the oldest Valentine's Day traditions in France placed men and women in houses that faced one another where they would take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another, and the women left unmatched gathered afterward for a bonfire. Eventually, the government passed down a decree officially banning the observation of this custom.
The French also came up with reasons to celebrate based purely on nature. One of the theories for why Valentine’s Day is observed specifically on February 14th is that birds and other animals paired off and mated in the middle of February and in France, there was a popular notion that birds start the process of mating around the middle of the second month of the year. Thus, the reason that lovers all over the region started exchanging romantic notes around this time (as they began to consider it opportune for them to do the same).
Today, the French celebrate Valentine’s Day like many others around the world by exchanging cards, small gifts, words of affection, and especially fresh flowers to show their love for one another. Oh, and wonderful French food. Lots of wonderful French food.
Imagining a romantic La Saint-Valentin? While we can't transport you to France, Home to the Letters of Love, we'd love to celebrate with you in NYC with a FREE event! Click below to gain access.