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Catholic Activity: St. Valentine's Day, Saint Exchange


  • paper
  • names of saints to exchange

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This idea is a wonderful alternative to the secularization of Valentine's Day.


There are records of St. Valentine's-day being celebrated in the country as long ago as 1446, but how St. Valentine came to be the patron of lovers no one seems to know.

On this day "an equal number of maids and bachelors get together, each writes their true or feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up and draw by lots, the girls taking the men's billets, the men the maids; so that each of the young men lights upon a girl that he calls his valentine and each of the girls upon a young man whom she calls her valentine. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the men give balls and treats to their valentines and wear their billets several days upon their sleeves," — possibly giving rise to the saying that so-and-so wears his heart upon his sleeve. In Scotland it was not only the men who gave gifts to their valentines; the giving was mutual.

This is a feast that has been, and still can be, celebrated in adapted form. In a family or group lots are drawn for a valentine, but the names of various saints are written on papers and lots drawn. The saint then becomes one's patron for the day or the octave. Where children draw lots one should tell them something of their saints; where older people are concerned they should discover all they can about their patron, because during the octave they ought in some way to imitate their valentine.

Activity Source: Candle is Lighted, A by P. Stewart Craig, The Grail, Field End House, Eastcote, Middlesex, 1945