If you’re like me, your relationship with Valentine’s Day has been a rocky one. I remember the joy of the heart shaped cards we exchanged in elementary school when we lived in the US. There were several boys I had crushes on and I’d daydream about getting cards or conversation hearts from them. I never did. I’d get cards from the girls in my class because they were the ones who bothered to put in the effort. The boys didn’t seem interested in love and romance.
Fast forward 30 odd years and very little has changed. I have not found one bloke in all my years who is genuinely into Valentine’s Day – I’m sure they are out there, I just haven’t come across one. Some men pretend, of course, so as not to disappoint the women. I’ve known quite a number of men who’d get their secretaries to buy the long stemmed roses. My partner would also get me a gorgeous box of long stem roses every year (they’re a click away on the internet) and I only wondered how much thought he put into it.
“Do you enjoy buying roses for me?” I confronted him the year before and he confessed that he didn’t. “Why on Earth are you bothering then?” He thought he was expected to. I told him to stop doing and buying things out of obligation.
Have you ever wondered why so many men buy roses, diamonds and take their beloved to restaurants with Valentine’s Day special (inflated) menu meals? What is behind all this nonsense? I went on Google to find out more about the origins of this tradition and what I found was unexpected.
Who was Saint Valentine?
St Valentine or San Valentino as he was known was a Roman saint who lived in the 3rd century. He was the patron saint of the town of Terni in Italy, epileptics and beekeepers. What gives, right? What does any of that have to do with romance? Well you see, those were his passions and he truly loved Terni, epileptics and beekeepers. Who are we to judge what’s in a person’s heart?
As those were the times of the Roman Empire (dark and ominous to those who didn’t worship the myriad of Roman Gods and Goddesses), early Christians were persecuted. San Valentino was martyred on the 14th of February and his feast was celebrated on this day in European Christian countries. So how did his name become synonymous with romantic love? And who invented romantic love, because historically marriages were largely arranged, a tradition that survives in the East.
It was in Medieval Europe where the seeds of what we see in Hollywood style romances were planted. Chivalry or courtly love marked by the exchange of gifts and roses between lovers, became the latest trend in furthering relationships between knights and their ladies. Now, I can’t say for certain how the knights felt about having a lady for whom to fight for, honour and give roses and valuable gems and jewels to, but I suspect there was great joy and anticipation in it. This was all before the days of the internet, before everything was a click away.
According to Wikipedia, any of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the 14th century in England, notably by Chaucer, the author most famous for “The Canterbury Tales”.
Whilst it would be refreshing to step back into those times, the genie is out of the bottle and poof! like that Valentine’s Day marketing and reminders are around every corner as is the push for scentless long-stemmed roses, gems and portrayals of romance as genuine as cubic zirconium for diamonds.
Nature’s Love Song: Flowers
So, ladies, how to put a fresh spin on this day of love and romance without placing any expectations on a partner who isn’t into it? Why not make it about self love?
In Harvey Specter’s (Suits) words:
“Ever loved someone so much, you would do anything for them? Yeah, well make that someone yourself and do whatever the hell you want.”
I think I will. I developed a real passion for flowers during the COVID lockdowns because miraculously they were everywhere. I know other people who love flowers with a passion and that would be florists like Christine at Indigo & Eden. I ordered a bouquet for myself for Valentine’s Day. I can’t wait to see what arrives (As much as I would love Narcissus I don’t think they’re in season and should not mix them with other flowers in a bouquet).
Check out her Instagram account for floral ideas and see if you can reignite a little romance with yourself (I promise when you do, the man in your life won’t be able to resist you).
Over to you…
What are you getting for yourself this Valentine’s Day? If it’s a bouquet of flowers, what flowers have a special meaning to you and why?