Valentine’s Day Eve, 1755
“Do be quiet, you will give us away!” Heather admonished her twin sister.
Hannah pressed her fingers to her lips to stifle the giggles that threatened to wake their ever-vigilant father.
Heather’s eyes danced in spite of herself. “Hold out your hand,” she instructed, opening a handkerchief stuffed with bay leaves. “One, two, three, four, five,” she counted as she placed each leaf in her sister’s hand. “Five for you and five for me.”
“I would not think such.” Heather took one of the eggs and ate it in two bites, then washed it down with water from a tin cup.
Hannah followed suit, and when they were finished, they sat on the side of the bed and grabbed their pillows.
Hannah bobbed her head. “I-I. Well, yes.”
Willing herself to drift off to sleep, Hannah whispered, “I hope my dreams are of Edward.”
St. Valentine’s Day customs can trace their roots to the conventional belief of the Middle Ages that on February 14, halfway through the second month of the year, birds begin to choose their mates and songbirds warble the end of winter.
Other poets commemorating Valentine’s Day were Drayton and Herrick --
February 14 eventually became regarded as a day especially consecrated to lovers and deemed a proper occasion for the writing of romantic letters and the sending of love tokens. The literature of both France and England in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries commonly contain references to such practices, with the earliest probably found in the 34th and 35th Ballades, a work written in French by the bilingual poet named John Gower (1327/30-1408), an English poet who may also have been in the merchant trade.
One of the most ancient of Valentine's Days rituals (dating from at least the Middle Ages and possibly earlier) was the practice of writing the names of young ladies on slips of paper and placing them within a bowl. The lady whose name was drawn by an eligible bachelor became his valentine, and he wore the name on his sleeve for one week. It is believed that the saying "to wear one's heart on one's sleeve” (meaning that it is easy for others to know the romantic inclination of an individual) may have originated from this custom.
During the 1700s, a poplar custom was the one followed by Hannah and Heather.
Another 18th century custom was for a woman to write the names of sweethearts or men in the village on small scraps of paper which would be rolled into clay balls. The balls were dropped into a container of water. It was believed that the first clay piece to rise to the top was the young woman's true valentine.