Friday, February 11, 2011

French Fridays~ Valentine’s Day in France

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

Linking to:



jeanette from everton terrace said...

Interesting, I had no idea. Valentine's Day is the day after my daughter's birthday so it always kind of gets lost in the shuffle at our house.

Maggie said...

What an interesting post, I live in France so it was especially nice to read.

Sherry said...

Wonderful info on Valentine's Day. Love the French cards too. Very interesting customs that developed from this day of love. Thank you so much for adding it to my party!

Sylvia said...

Hi Laura ,
Thank you for your visit and your king comment . Your post is not only informative, but charming and romantic ...I do Like it ! Thank you for your invitation to the High Tea Party - I will try my best !

Happy Valentine's Day !

Sarah said...

What an interesting post. I had no idea the valentine card tradition started in France.

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

What great images Laura, and what an interesting read. Wow! The tradition of burning the photos sure doesn't seem like it would have been associated with a day of love! Very interesting. Thank you for linking this to the Valentine Party. laurie

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

I have alot of post cards I bought in France over the years but no Valentine ones!

Karena said...

Dearest Andrea and Laura how wonderful a post! The images are delightful!!

And to think I thought Valentines Cards started at Hallmark! ;)

Art by Karena

la Brocanteuse said...

Thank you for sharing this interesting info- love it! happy Saint Valentin to you..xo Colette ~ Afrique du Sud

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

I love posts like these - so interesting and informative. Thank you!!


Anonymous said...


Very informative post. Hmmm, what does it mean when you spy Blue Jays attacking other birds? The bonfire ritual still goes on today by scorned lovers as in "Waiting to Exhale."
I didn't know the origins of St Valentines day went back to 1415 France. So nice to know it wasn't a marketing scheme of Hallmark!

Your Friend,