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The Stations of the SunA History of the Ritual Year in Britain$
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Ronald Hutton

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205708

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205708.001.0001

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(p.146) 14 Valentines
The Stations of the Sun

Ronald Hutton

Oxford University Press

Two out of the three most celebrated fourteenth-century writers from England, Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, mentioned the same popular belief: that the birds choose their mates upon the feast of Valentine, their patron saint. Although still more credible further south in Europe, where spring would be more advanced, the idea made sense in Britain as well. How much further back in time the tradition goes is impossible to say, for the fourteenth century is the first in which literary works became available in sufficient quantity in England to make the recording of such notions likely. The third famous author to operate in it, Langland, did not refer to this one, but the most prominent writer in the first half of the fifteenth, John Lydgate, not only did so but went on to speak of a custom that had grown out of it.

Keywords:   England, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, feast, Valentine, saint, Europe, Britain, tradition, John Lydgate

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