What Valentine's Day Tradition Was Banned in France?

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A French Valentine's Day ritual known as a 'loterie d'amour,' or a love lottery, was banned when the practice got so out of control that some participants resorted to building bonfires and verbally insulting others participating in the event. The event involved single people entering two houses that stood opposite from each other; those who wanted to be paired with a female partner would enter one house, and those who wanted to be paired with a male partner would enter the opposite building.

The exact details of the selection process are murky, but somehow, the love lottery would frequently, and quite literally, go up in flames, leading the French government to outlaw the practice over concerns for public safety. During the loterie d'amour, couples would pair up by calling to each other from the windows of the opposing houses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was not an effective method of matchmaking, and this is where the trouble associated with the event started. Often, a male partner would find that his new match was not exactly to his liking, leaving several women abandoned and angry. These women would then build bonfires in order to burn pictures and soothe their rage. Angry people who have recently suffered a romantic rejection may not be the best people to keep makeshift fires in check, and this public safety hazard was eventually outlawed.