I love old words. Take simmity. It means an inclination or fondness for a person of the opposite sex; (simmiting) to look after admiringly, to pay attention to. Oh, and billets, private letters, filled with secret words.
Eons ago, Henri Misson wrote about simmity in his memoir, Travels Over England. (You can read the original work here.)
On the Eve of the 14th of February, St. Valentine’s Day, a time when all living Nature inclines to couple, the young folks in England and Scotland too, by a very ancient custom, celebrate a little festival that tends to the same end. An equal number of maids and bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets which they roll up and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the mens’ billets, and the men the maids’, so that each of the young men lights upon a girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the girls upon a young man which she calls hers.
Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the Valentines give treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love.
This ceremony is practiced differently in different countries, according to the freedom or severity of Madam Valentine. There is another kind of Valentine, which is the first young man or woman that chance throws in your way in the street or elsewhere on that day.
Has chance thrown true love your way? Stevie Ray Vaughn (RIP) wants to talk to you.