medieval manuscript - Love in Medieval Times

Love in Medieval Times

Valentine’s Day is the ultimate celebration of love.  The origin of this day of love is obscure; it is thought to be named after St. Valentine, a Roman priest, who lived during the time of the persecution of the early Christians. Valentine supposedly married young Christians when the government sought to prevent their marriage to stymie the growth of Christianity.  All the information regarding the love-day is from stories.  Regardless of how Valentine’s day came to be celebrated by lovers,  romance has existed since the beginning of time.

Marriage and love in feudal Europe presented some unusual customs and rituals which we do not experience in our modern world. If a vassal or bondman from a certain manor wanted to marry a woman from another manor, he had to give the lord of that manor a brass pan in compensation; and the pan had to be of such a size that the bride could sit in it without undue compression. That tradition was probably the result of a rich merchant that ordered too many large brass pans.

Witnesses to weddings often would hit one another to impress the occasion on their memories in case they might be called on to attest to the validity of the marriage. In Medieval times there were no formal records. Uncle Brun readily could remember the occasion of Attila and Matilda’s nuptials because Aunt Maud broke his right jaw. The passing of the ring which symbolized the union in Medieval Europe is still a tradition today.

All Medieval dwellings were very cold. Lovemaking was possibly limited during the winter. When spring came, it roused people to a pagan frenzy. The sun shone, and lusty blood flowed. Lovers took to the fields, freed from the crowded houses where whole families often lived. Most love poems were written in the spring; such the modern term, “spring fever.”

One tradition from the Middle Ages that is still around today is the toast to love. All classes had access to some form of celebratory beverages. The nobility had wine, and the lower classes had beer and ale. I believe that young peasants knew how the nobility’s wine was made and many bottles were made and consumed in the spring fields during a lovers picnic. During the marriage ceremony the bride and groom toasted each other with the finest Medieval Chalices that were available. Glass was not readily available in Medieval Europe so silver, gold or pewter was used for the wedding toast. Often they were borrowed from the church.

Love is the most wonderful thing on the face of the earth, and it was the same during the Middle Ages. No one told them that they were living during depressed times; they believed that they were a very advanced society. Slow down and enjoy the celebration of love. Toast your lover, go on a picnic, propose, eat chocolate, smell the roses, write a poem of love and take a large brass pot to your beloved home and let her sit in it.

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