[ A Londoner gives Valentine's Day lovers a tip or two about the February 14th:]
Normally on Valentine's day, I do my best to avoid people and try not to get downbeat when no cards come fluttering through the letterbox. But I ask, what really is the pint of Valentines day?
Historical accounts of what happened on February the 14th vary quite dramatically, and nobody can actually be sure if St Valentine actually existed and if he did, exactly where and when did he die?
His whole life remains a mystery, and yet every year, we spend millions of pounds on soppy items that on February 15th will be back to normal price. Is it really worth it? While accounts of the reclusive St valentine will never be validated, the common and most well known version of events is that he was a Christian Monk, who spent his time conducting secret marriages for Christian couples in Rome at a time when the Catholic church were persecuting Christians. He was eventually discovered and murdered on February 14th.
Another version of events is that he was a Christian monk who was in love with the daughter of the Catholic king, and because their love was forbidden he spent his days sending her secret love letters sealed with a kiss. It was in one of these letters that he is suggested to have said that when he died his heart would belong to her.
The king apparently found out about the love and ordered the monk to be killed and his heart cut out and given to his daughter, kind of gruesome but you can see the basis of the cards and heart gifts.
Either story sounds rather concocted to me, and expertly spun by the retail trade into conning people to buying fancy cards and presents to declare their love for someone. But one thing we should make clear is that St Valentine isn’t the patron saint of couples, but the patron St of lovers.
The whole idea is to keep your love a secret and that is why you send cards that you don’t sign. Which, for me, is the most infatuating thing about the day. I mean if you like someone enough to spend ridiculous amounts of money on cards and flowers, then sign the bloody thing because otherwise its a waste of time.
But the point is, if St Valentine is the patron St of lovers and not couples, then surely valentines day should be a day celebrated by single people and not those who are in love or relationships. If you are in a relationship then your love isn’t a secret and so kind of defeats the object of celebrating a secret love or a love that is dangerous.
Apart from the fact that if you are coupled up, you shouldn’t need a special day of the year to tell your partner you love them, you should surely be doing that regularly anyway. If you told them only on one day of a year, shouldn't you be a pretty crappy partner.
I always get depressed around valentines day because I don’t need it so confounded that I become truly unlovable. At 36 I have never received a valentines day card, yet I have to see or forced to notice all these couples, all loved up and happy, and the endless adverts about roses and dinner specials for you and your loved one.
This year however, I have decided to be different, and be positive to embrace valentines day for what I think it should be - a day for secret love, and day to embrace being single, knowing that out there in this whole big bad world, there could be someone thinking of you and wishing they had the guts to ask you out on that day.
Thats what St Valentine would have wanted for his day. If the historians are to be believed, then secret love is what the day should be all about. And for once, just this year, I am going to be proud to be unloved and single.
For those of you in a couple on Friday, just think that actually what you are doing is nothing more than feeding the retail machine and following the belief that because you love someone you need to buy a soppy card or flowers at over-hiked prices to show them. Well you don’t. So, how about doing something different. How about you don’t bow to the consumer pressure that all girls want something sparkly and expensive on valentines day, or that it has to be the text book definition of romance.
How about trying something different? Like instead of following the rules, why not create your own? Instead of an expensive meal for two in an over priced restaurant, why not a handmade picnic in the park or by the river?
How about a handmade card or present? Gift vouchers for jobs round the house, or for a football-free day? Just because it isn’t expensive doesn’t mean it isn't worth it, and to be honest a present that has been thought about is worth much more than the one that has just been paid for.
And if you think about it, those roses will be half the price on Saturday, so is it really worth it? Why not stick to the true meaning of St Valentine Day and keep your love a secret?
Mind you if you all did that, then you would probably all be single on the 15th of February because the retail market has done their job very well and made you think that you have to buy something come February 14th.
* Twitter: @ukhistorygirl.
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