On Valentine's Day, anniversaries and other special occasions, couples demonstrate their feelings with gifts of flowers, cards and chocolates. Lovers strive to capture the attentions of those they admire. But although these romantic customs have stood the test of time, there are a few traditions that are no longer around -- and the world of love is better off for it.
Mutton under the pillow
An old Welsh tradition states that a young woman who places a shoulder of mutton under her pillow and arranges her shoes in a T at the foot of her bed will see the face of her future love in her dreams that night. This is one of a wide range of folk rituals related to foretelling love -- but probably the messiest.
Early Valentine's Day customs weren't quite as attached to true romance as their modern counterparts. In the 17th century and earlier, communities often selected valentines at random, either by having men give gifts to the first woman they saw on Valentine's Day or by selecting pairs of valentines by lot.
Leap year proposals
Legend has it that the custom of women proposing to men on the 29th of February originates with Queen Margaret of Scotland, who decreed a fine for men who failed to accept these proposals in 1288. Although this is probably a legend, the fact that this custom is no longer observed is a source of relief to some men.
Related: History's unlikeliest love stories
Floriography, or the secret language of flowers, was an elaborate code created, according to legend, by King Charles II of Sweden, who, like most kings, had too much free time. Each type of flower carried a different meaning. Although some florists still practice the code of floriography, most people don't know it -- which saves a lot of unintentional miscommunication when suitors pick their bouquets in a hurry!
Mock Valentines were a popular fad in 19th-century Britain and the United States, following closely on the heels of Valentine cards themselves. These cards appeared outwardly to be normal Valentine's cards, but contained mean-spirited caricatures or even direct insults.
Valentine's Day begging
In the eighteenth century, children in parts of England would go from house to house on Valentine's Day, reciting rhymes and receiving small presents of money from the household. In Norfolk, other revellers would wear outlandish costumes as a holiday character called "Father Valentine."
French Valentine's Day customs could occasionally turn nasty. Couples would be chosen by lot, but the male valentine had the opportunity to reject his partner if he didn't like her. The rejected women would make effigies of their partners and burn them in a ceremonial bonfire. These bonfires became so wild that they eventually had to be outlawed.