“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
In 1382 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem to celebrate the king’s engagement. Years later this one line from the Parlement of Foules (The Parliament of Birds) caused Valentine’s Day to be associated with romantic love.
Chaucer didn’t mean the Saint Valentine of February 14. He would have known that most birds don’t court in February. But they certainly court on May 2, the date of the king’s engagement, the feast day of a lesser known Valentine.
The rest of Europe celebrated a more famous Saint Valentine in February, so by a series of mistakes we celebrate love today and save May 2 for birding.
(American coots, photo by Steve Gosser)