As the 14th of February approaches, reading about various traditions for St. Valentine’s Day is always enjoyable. For example, one French practice known as  “une loterie d’amour” took place at different times of the year, depending on the village. This custom involved the bachelors and spinsters of the community standing outside their respective houses until most were eventually paired off. In some parts of the country, the next stage would be the gentleman returning to the lady’s house with a bottle of schnapps and firing his pistol until her father came to the door.

 If the suitor was then invited in for a glass of brandy, this was a sign of approval. If the lady presented him with a cornet of spiced peas, this symbolised she wished the courtship to continue. However, if mademoiselle were not attracted to monsieur, he might burn her effigy before her doorway. If the reverse was the case, the following Sunday, the single women could burn the images of the cads who had abandoned them. Accompanying the conflagration were various insults aimed at the male population per se.

Of course, you are free to mark St. Valentine’s Day at the Chateau in whichever way you see fit  – flowers, chocolates,  Fumé Blanc, or Swizzels’ ‘Love Hearts’. But there are several reasons why we hope you never engage in the loterie d’amour. Firstly, it is wasteful of fuel. Secondly, it sounds like the plot of a 1960s Cushing/Lee Hammer Horror film. And thirdly, the French government eventually outlawed the lottery.

In fact, according to the writer Elise Lambert, in France, Valentine’s Day had not been celebrated since the 19th century “ but came back into fashion at the Liberation:  ‘American soldiers flirted with French women by talking to them about this feast of love. Aided by women’s magazines touting the ‘lovers’ day’., Valentine’s Day, in the form we know today, was reborn”.

As for the ideal romantic film to view on the 14th,  that is – of course – entirely your choice. All this writer merely suggests is that if the final scene of Un homme et une femme does not utterly move you…