As you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up. I will be writing about it this week. It’s this time of the year. There is no escaping from overpriced red roses anyway: they are everywhere. You may not know it, but it looks like, once again, the French have invented Valentine’s day. What can I say? Anything to do with love can be linked with France. That’s the way it is. I don’t always like the reputation we French have, but I just have to live with it.
I have always wondered why Valentine day was mid-February. Surely summer would be well, nicer. Or at least warmer. But I was wrong again. Apparently, both in England and France, birds and other animals paired off and mated in the middle of February. It is thought that people started to, well, do the same, and celebrate the 14th of February as the special day for lovers.
There is another reason why Valentine Day originated from France: the oldest known Valentine still exists today as a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The greeting was written in February 1415. The Duke of Orleans stayed in captivity for 25 years. He wrote a lot and apparently could barely speak French when he was freed. The only way to reach his lover was to write. You thought that you had it hard? Well, you see, it could be much, much worse.
This story inspired a song called ‘Ma seule amour’ by French singer Laurent Voulzy (I think that he lives in the UK too, actually). The chorus says it all:
” Stay away from the door it’s locked for ever.
Write a song no other way to reach your lover…”
I hadn’t realised that there were so many articles about the French paradox out there. That’s actually another paradox: we French are not really aware that there is, apparently, a French paradox. So what is it all about? Well, to cut a long story short, despite drinking more wine and eating an awful lot of fatty stuff, we French tend to suffer less (20% less, if you must know) from coronary heart diseases. What can I say? Life is seriously unfair.