year on February 14, millions of valentine’s cards are exchanged
across the world.
traditionally people in Norfolk make an extra effort to get those
In the year
2000, one Cupid pretender treated the residents of a Norwich street
to a valentine’s surprise. People in Muriel Road woke up to find
biscuits with heart stickers stuck to their doors, gates and cars.
was more of a prank than a custom, the county has a long heritage
of valentine traditions.
Victorian times, Norfolk lovers went to great lengths to anonymously
swap parcels on February 13. Back then more money was often spent
on valentine’s gifts than Christmas presents.
it was customary to send a gift to your sweetheart. In other parts
of Britain, a solitary love letter or card would do.
Across the county, Valentine’s Eve was as eagerly anticipated as
Christmas Eve and it was very good humoured. People would fill a
bag with love tokens to give away. They would bump into friends
in the street and share jokes along the way.
When they arrived
at the home of their lover, they would knock on the door, leave
a present and run off before they were seen.
the valentine would be out and you would return home to find your
own doorstep covered with parcels.
Valentine's Day was such an extravagant custom in Norfolk, jokers
saw it as a perfect opportunity to pull off hoaxes.
in love would be mocked with a huge present left outside their house.
After unwrapping lots of layers of paper, the unhappy recipient
would then be reduced to tears by a nasty scribbled comment.
open their door after hearing a rat-tat-tat only to be laughed at
by somebody hidden away.
The only surviving Norfolk ritual is Jack Valentine, otherwise known
as Old Father Valentine or Old Mother Valentine. The enigmatic Mr
or Mrs Valentine disappear into thin air after knocking at the door
and dropping off their gifts.
It is unclear
when this mystery figure first emerged but children are as likely
as adults to receive a visit. During the early 20th century, youngsters
would probably be given an offering bought from the village shop
while lovers would be more generous.
is known about the history of Jack Valentine, it is a popular custom.
We have even had an e-mail from a Norfolk expatriate living in America
who says she plans to continue the tradition for her eight-year-old
daughter. If you know more about this Norfolk ritual then
send us an e-mail.
In the 1800s,
Norfolk children would set out before dawn to sing rhymes in exchange
for sweets, cakes and pennies. One favourite local verse was:
God bless the baker,
You'll be the giver,
And I'll be the
Once it was
light, their requests could be turned down because they were said
to be sunburnt.
the whole, the county’s customs were more gracious than those practiced
Girls in Derbyshire
would pray that their boyfriend called on Valentine’s Day. If he
did not bother she was deemed ‘dusty’. She would then be humiliated
by her family or friends who had to clean her with a broom or straw.