Oui, the French do indeed celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. It is no secret that the French are well known for amour. There is even a pretty little village known as Saint~ Valentin located in the heart of Champagne Berrichonne, in the Indre department.
A popular belief dating back to the Middle Ages in both France and England is that young lovers noticed that birds begin to mate in mid February. This was considered a lucky sign and people began exchanging tokens of love during this time.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, French poets began creating a romantic image of one special day in the minds of the people.
A peculiar custom that arose was known as "une loterie d'amour" or “drawing for love”. Unmarried people of all ages would go into houses facing each other and begin calling out from one window to another and pair off with a chosen partner. If a young man was not particularly enthralled with his new valentine, he would desert her. A bonfire would be lit later and the single ladies would burn images of their ungrateful lovers and shout abuses at them. The ritual was eventually abandoned when thankfully the French government handed down a decree which officially banned the custom.
It is believed that the Valentine card originated in France. A young Frenchman, Charles, Duke of Orleans, is said to have written the first Valentine's Day poem to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London after he was captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The tradition continues today with the French exchanging cards which contain sweet messages entitled “cartes d’amities”.
Joyeuse St. Valentin!
Andrea and Laura