Doves are a year-round symbol of peace but also a romantic Valentine's Day staple of love. Why are these birds considered so, well, lovey-dovey?
The association dates back to the Middle Ages, when people believed that all birds chose their mates on Valentine's Day. Although some birds do mate during the middle of February, including the mistle thrush, blackbird and partridge, most birds ' mating seasons take place during the spring and summer.
The dove was singled out to represent romance because Greek mythology associated the small, white bird with Aphrodite, the goddess of love (known in Roman mythology as Venus). Aphrodite/Venus is often depicted with doves fluttering around her or resting on her hand. Doves also represent monogamy and loyalty in relationships nice qualities for a Valentine's date because they tend to stay with the same partner during mating season.
Male doves also help their female partners incubate and care for their young, which helps their image as devoted, loving birds. In fact, their reputation as symbols of love is so strong that many love potion recipes popular during medieval times required the heart of a dove.
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