So it’s soon to be Valentine’s Day … So what? You make your loved one feel special every single day of the year, right?
What?! We might be wrong?!
Well, February’s the time to right that wrong—in sumptuous style. Why not reserve a romantic table for two? Or book a surprise B&B break—or a fabulous four-poster fantasy? By taking a Let’s Visit virtual tour to ‘try before you buy’, you’ll be able to make sure that the only surprise in store will be when you pop the question. (Are we getting ahead of ourselves?!)
OK. So commitment may or may not be on the cards—but do you know why we’re sending those cards in the first place? Why does Valentine’s Day mean red roses and chocolates? We thought we’d investigate—and give you something interesting to say while sipping the champagne …
- Pagan in origin, the mid-February festival of lovers was appropriated by Pope Gelasius I in ad 496 as a way of inspiring Romans to emulate the saints—all under the patronage of Saint Valentine, a bishop with a rather romantic history. But tradition isn’t so easily trampled and, sure enough, 14 February saw Roman men sending instead messages of love and devotion to the very earthly objects of their affection. And in these, we can see (if we squint a bit) the very first Valentine’s cards …
- Or can we? It’s claimed elsewhere that the very first Valentine’s card was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, after he was captured in 1415. Imprisoned in the Tower of London for 25 years, he fanned the faltering flames of love with more than 60 poems carefully handwritten to his wife (who appears thoughtfully to have let the British Museum keep one for posterity). Today, of course, the Valentine’s card is ubiquitous, with over 1 billion sent worldwide every year.
- And what about the yummy stuff? Well, you can thank Richard Cadbury for introducing the ‘traditional’ Valentine’s box of chocolates in 1868. In medieval times, girls would eat unusual foods to try to induce dreams of their future husbands—and given that little was off the menu in those days, the mind boggles at what ‘unusual’ might mean.
- Perhaps it’s the unusual nature of the foods that led the Welsh to commemorate the day with spoons? Carving keys and keyholes (with obvious symbolism) into the wood, young lovers would exchange the spoons as tokens of their affection. (Might this be why we say that our Bob’s gone ‘all spoony’ over Vera?)
- Now, of course, we think of Valentine’s Day and we think ‘red roses’—and with good reason. The rose was the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. (Yep. It’s back to the Romans again.) With red considered the colour of passion and romance, the maths is simple: ‘red’ + ‘rose’ = ‘I love you’—if you’re a lady, that is. Some 73 per cent of Valentine’s Day flowers are bought by men, while women buy only 27 per cent. (It probably takes little imagination to guess what the boys prefer.)…..
- But it was the 17th century before Britain began to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that more closely resembles the Valentine’s Day of today. By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. Now, apparently some 3 per cent of pet owners prefer to give gifts to their pets, arguing that they’re more grateful than humans. (Will Tiddles’ love poems be preserved for posterity like those of the Duke of Orleans?)
- Actually, there has long been a part for our furred and feathered—especially feathered—friends to play on Valentine’s Day. In the 14th century, it was believed that birds began to mate mid-February—and thus the legends took flight. (Ahem.) See a robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day? You’ll marry a sailor. A sparrow? Well, you’ll be poor—but happy. And what about a goldfinch? Darling, you’ll marry a millionaire!
Oh dear. Did we steer the conversation back round to marriage? Oops … Perhaps you should stock up with a few of these fun facts to steer your way clear of danger on the day?!
Whatever you decide to do to celebrate—whether with extravagant gestures or with a small thought that is valued threefold—we hope you manage to make your Valentine’s Day a magical memory!
With love …