A few years ago I found myself a bit strapped for cash around this time of year and so tried to think of alternative ways to lavish my partner with affection. I’m absolutely rubbish at the whole romantic, seductive sassy thing, I can’t give a massage to save my life and I’m certainly not confident enough to waltz around in skimpy undies with a come get me expression. I’m also a terribly unimaginative cook, I can peel potatoes and coat things in oil but that’s about it. My options were running out. Words were my last friend.

I did cobble together a few romantic lines, some of them were even rhyming and passable as poetry, but when I thought of handing over a poem to my dusty work weary man I realised how ridiculous I would feel. I needed a new plan of attack. I chose to team up with my best friend, the mobile. That year my poor man got his ass spammed with random, and probably not very memorable or even poignant facts, about Valentine’s Day. If I remember rightly, my efforts were rewarded with a ‘don’t worry, I don’t really believe in Valentine’s Day and all that commercialism anyway’, so I’m guessing my efforts didn’t put him in the romantic mood!

February 14th is what we all know and love as Valentine’s Day. It’s named in tribute to St Valentine, although I’m not sure which one as there were several. One of the most likely candidates is a roman priest that was clubbed to death for restoring someone’s sight in about 270ad. That was a long time ago, and I’m betting there was more to the story than acts of kindness and miracles galore, but who knows what went on way back then. Another St Valentine was a bishop of Terni, a town smack bang in the centre of Italy. Maybe we’re getting a little closer to the romantic origins of the much celebrated occasion. Italy conjures thoughts of Latino lovers whispering sweet nothings in the ear whilst the sun is blazing. Well this bishop was also killed in the name of religion, so nope, we’re not quite there yet. One theory is that the priests used to marry young couples in secret, hence the association with lovers. However there is a suggestion that the traditions predate the saints.

Apparently it’s all about the birds and the bees. When the ancient Romans saw the birds showing the first signs of spring and getting a bit frisky, they saw fit to replicate nature’s activities and give gifts to the ones they loved. It’s as simple as that. Sometime during the 18th century cards were introduced, handmade then, with messages of love sent between young couples. More recently Cupid, the god of desire, attraction and all of those other naughty lustful pass times, has been strongly associated with Valentine’s Day. If we run with the Roman spring origins then Cupid is more than welcome to join the party, but as a religious feast day I think we may have problems! I’m happy to go with the spring time frivolities, Valentine’s should be about the fun. Finding ways to surprise your chosen intended, celebrating the approaching spring in the world’s great cycle sounds like the best way to banish the post-Christmas blues.

origin of valentines day

Today it’s hard to be inventive. The restaurants will be fully booked with their special romantic menus that probably carry a special price too. Roses miraculously turn into precious gems, or so the cost would imply and cards get bigger and soppier with every shop you go in to. This one day of the year is also responsible for making a large proportion of single people feel utterly miserable about being alone, whilst those in a relationship try to decide if they should or shouldn’t partake in the tradition. What if one partner sends a card and the other hasn’t? What if your boyfriend gets a card from somebody else? It’s hardly surprising that the majority of us feel the whole thing is over rated and just a commercial stunt these days. Let’s ditch the roses for daffodils, the meal out for a cosy cuddle with a few candles burning and a glass of wine. Put your feet up and relax, enjoy each other’s company and be all Roman for the night!

Of course, should I be the recipient of a huge bouquet of flowers, endless chocolates, weekend away in Paris and sweet nothings whispered in my ear I don’t think I’d be disappointed…

What will or would you do on Valentine’s day?