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La Saint Valentin Posted by on Feb 12, 2021 in Culture, Language

Salut tout le monde!

Le 14 février, c’est La Saint Valentin en France : la fête de l’amour et des amoureux. February 14th is St. Valentine’s day in France: the holiday of love and lovers.

There are many stories and traditions linked to Valentine’s day, from both Ancient Rome to more recent modern Christianity. The most popular story is about St. Valentin of Rome, a widely recognized 3rd century Roman patron saint of love.

He would allegedly cut hearts out of parchment paper and distribute them to persecuted Christians to remind them of God’s love. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

In prison awaiting execution, legend states that St. Valentine cured a jailer’s daughter of blindness. He may have even fallen in love himself, since before his death he wrote the first ‘Valentine’s Day’ card to the young woman signing it “Your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Comment les Français célèbrent la Saint-Valentin ? How do the French celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Similarly as in the US – gifts, chocolates, and cards will be shared between lovers and couples. This is a celebration strictly for them, however, it is not common to see friends sending each other Valentine’s, or even anonymous Valentine’s being sent to a crush.

La Fête du Baiser – The Festival of the Kiss

La Fête du Baiser is a festival celebrated the Saturday after St. Valentine’s Day, in Roquemaure, France. A local priest named Father René Durieu began the celebrations in 1989. It commemorates not only Saint Valentine, whom locals believe to be a former resident, but the arrival of his remains in 1868 which were purchased in Rome in hopes of curing the town’s diseased vine stocks. Allegedly within four years they were healed. Today, Roquemaure is home to a winery (Cellar St. Valentine) which produces wines named after the saint. Today special food and drink are shared around the village, as well as people dressing in traditional 19th century costumes and commemorating the patron saint of love.

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Some vocabulary to help you celebrate this Valentine’s day, French style:

Je t’aime – I love you

Follement amoureux de/ épris de (amoureuse de/ éprise de) – to be madly in love

Un cœur d’artichaut – ‘an artichoke heart’ (to describe someone who falls in love easily)

Est-ce que tu veux sortir avec moi ? – Would you like to go out with me ?

Est-ce que tu veux bien m’épouser ? – Would you like to marry me?

Un petit-ami/ un petit-copain – a boyfriend

Une petite-amie / une petite-copine – a girlfriend

Joyeuse Saint Valentin – Happy Valentine’s Day

Tu veux être mon valentin / ma valentine ? – Would you be my valentine?

Il m’aime un peu, beaucoup, passionnément, à la folie, pas du tout – He loves me, he loves me not… (he likes me a little, a lot, he loves me passionately, madly, not at all…)

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* So linguistically I know you are all thinking – why is it La Saint Valentin in French?

Valentines’ day is ‘la Saint Valentin’ in French even though ‘Saint Valentin’ is masculine, and therefore the article associated with it should be ‘le.’ That is because what the whole name is referring to is “La Fête de Saint Valentin,” and that is why it is ‘la.’ 🙂

Joyeuse Saint Valentin !

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement Associate for TL. Gaelophile. (Soon to be) Digital Nomad. Check out my personal blog, A Polyglot's Inkblot: https://www.apolyglotsinkblot.com


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