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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Valentine's Day

Once again St Valentine’s Day is upon us, the time to send cards to our sweethearts or to those for whom we hold a secret passion. But how did this tradition arise? Our current customs can be traced back with any certainty to 14th century England when St Valentine became closely linked with romance and courtly love in the writing and poetry of that period.

But who was Valentine? The name Valentius derives from the Latin Valens, meaning ‘strong or worthy’, and according to traditional accounts Valentius or Valentine was an early Christian executed on 14 February AD 269 because he refused to deny Christ when commanded by the emperor. But it was not until AD 500 or so that Valentine came to be venerated.

In the series of articles in this feature you will find a short history of Scottish connections with St Valentine’s Day, the first associations in the Scots language, and a series of songs celebrating love, including those by Robert Burns who was himself an amorous adventurer. There is also a history of wedding traditions in Scotland together with terms in the Scots language.