A Goldfinch, A Heart On My Sleeve, & Some Chocolate Please

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so it’s time to get in the mood for love. Gifts of cards, heart-shaped boxes of candy, and bouquets of flowers will be flying off the shelves faster than Cupid’s arrows in our attempts to attract true love or prove our affection. And while I have nothing against these gifts, I think some of the earlier traditions were a lot more adventuresome.

For example, did you know it was believed that if a woman saw a robin fly over her head on Valentine’s Day she would marry a sailor? Alternatively, if she saw a sparrow she would happily marry a poor man and a goldfinch predicted a millionaire.

Or do you, like me, “wear your heart on your sleeve?” This idiom originated from a tradition from the middle ages.  As part of their Valentine’s Day celebration, young men would select a folded paper from a box. On the paper would be the name of an unwed girl from their village. The girl selected would be his Valentine for a week. So others would know which girl each man chose, the men would pin the paper to their shirt sleeve for all to see the name of their Valentine.

All this love talk got you feeling a little sick?  Eat chocolate. Considered an elixir for love, chocolate has been believed throughout history to bring smiles to the brokenhearted and to prompt amorous feelings in both men and women. It is believed that Madame Du Barry served it to all her suitors; Casanova consumed chocolate instead of champagne to induce romance; and Montezuma, the king of the ancient Aztecs, believed chocolate would make him virile. In the 1800’s physicians commonly advised their lovelorn patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining.

If you are approaching Valentine’s Day as a single in a married world you have a couple of options. You can pine for what isn’t or you can bring back the traditions of old. I love old traditions, don’t you? So throw some Thistle in your bird feeder—a Goldfinch’s favorite food—put a heart on your sleeve and give it away, and buy yourself a very large bar of chocolate to share. At the worst you will have provided treats for your feathered friends, meet someone new, and have a healthier heart from eating all that chocolate. Or you may just find true love. Let me know how it goes. 




  1. Vonda Skelton, 08 February, 2011

    Thanks for the info. I never knew where those traditions came from!


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