The eve of 21 January was when the celebration of St. Agnes' Day took place. It honored St. Agnes, a Roman virgin who suffered as a martyr and died in 306 AD.
The primary object of the celebration was divination by women to discover who might be their future husbands.
Poor Robin's Almanack of 1734 included the following verses:
"Saint Agnes Day comes by and by,
When pretty maids do fast to try
Their sweethearts in their dreams to see,
Or know who shall their husbands be.
but some when married all is ore,
And they desire to dream no more,
Or, if they must have these extreams,
Wish all their sufferings were but dreams."
It was suggested to young ladies (and young men): "Upon St. Agnes' Night, you take a row of pins, and pull out every one, one after another, saying a paternoster, sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him, or her you shall marry.".
Many young ladies would fast during the eve of St. Agnes' Day in hopes that it would give them additional luck in discovering their true love.
The chap-book, Mother Bunch's Closet Newly Broke Open suggested that the young lady on the eve of St. Agnes' Day go into her bed chamber, put on a clean shift, and then, after lying down, to place her right hand under her head and say: "Now the god of Love send me my desire." The young lady was told to then try to go to sleep as quickly as possible, and she would surely dream of her future lover.