"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street." - W. H. Auden
On Valentine’s Eve, lots were drawn for Valentines in Northern England and Southern Scotland. Equal numbers of maids and bachelors assembled together and each wrote their name on a slip of paper. The girls names were put into one bag, the boys in another. Each boy then draws from the girls’ bag and each girl from the boys’ bag. At the end of this, there is a choice between two Valentines; generally one prefers the name one draws to the one that has drawn them. However, if the same names are drawn by a couple, then surely they will marry.
Alternative means of prognosticating a potential mate is to write each candidate’s name on a slip of paper and roll each slip of paper in a little ball of clay. Put the clay balls in a basin and pour water on them. The first to rise to the surface will contain the name of your Valentine.
The ancient Romans began to celebrate the week-long Parentalia Festival on this day. This was a commemoration of one’s dead ancestors, especially one’s parents. Temples were closed, marriages were forbidden and people spent the day visiting tombs of ancestors. They hoped to placate restless ghost and spirits hovering around the graves by leaving offerings of milk, wine and flowers. Unless these remembrances were adhered to the ghosts of the dead would haunt the living.