Smoked pork for your Valentine

Interesting tidbit I noticed while reading through a book called Bêtes a Manger, by Colette Mechin.   The book is an ethnological study of the way that French people kill, butcher and eat meat.

Apparently, Valentine’s Day has not always been a day dedicated to amorous love in all parts of France.  According to the author, in the Northeast of France, Saint-Valentin was considered the patron saint of farm animals and, as such, had an important role in the community.  During the week of Saint-Valentin’s day, the parish priest would make a tour of the local farms, passing through each barnyard to bless the livestock.  On the 14th, there would be a procession for the saint.  On the Sunday of that week, the mass would be dedicated to the well being of all farm animals.

At the end of the mass, the local citizenry would leave offerings of smoked pork near the statue of Saint-Valentin, most often the smoked pork’s jaw, those which included the tongue being considered the most sought after.  The church would either auction these off for the benefit of the poor in the parish or distribute them directly to needy families.

Not exactly chocolates and flowers.  But interesting.

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