A Calendar Page for February 2017
Calendar page for February, from a Book of Hours, St Omer or Théouranne, c. 1320, Add MS 36684, ff. 2v–3r
The February calendar entry in Additional MS 36684 shows ever-more creative animal and human hybrid figures in the margins, including an undoubtedly chilly lady who is missing her clothes while perusing a book. Much warmer is our labour of the month, a grinning man sitting very close to a roaring fire, heating his socks. Wonder what is cooking in his pot!
Labour of the month, calendar page for February, Add MS 36684, f. 2v
On the opposite folio, the zodiac figure of Pisces, two fishes swimming in opposite directions connected by a single thread, are happily installed in a miniature Gothic cathedral. They are flanked by two curious, vaguely mammalian creatures trumpeting their importance with golden horns.
Pisces, calendar page for February, Add MS 36684, f. 3r
You might have noticed a significant entry on the fourteenth day of February: the feast of ‘Valentini martyris’, or Valentine the Martyr. It was only in the later Middle Ages that St Valentine first came to be associated with romantic love.
The borders of the first page include several realistic birds alongside the fantastic decorative hybrid figures. This is perhaps because mid-February was thought to be the time in which birds paired off — another reason why St Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.
Birds (and a butterfly), calendar page for February, Add MS 36684, f. 2v
As a reminder, you can see all of Additional MS 36684 online on Digitised Manuscripts. We hope your feet are as toasty as our labourer’s!