A collection of musings, articles and news about romance fiction.

Seeing Red

Did you know: Valentine’s Day was originally a Christian feast day for martyred St Valentine?

As a romantic suspense writer, celebrating love on the feast of the killing of a saint piques my interest.

So how, in all that is cut-out hearts and candy, did we come to observe this day the world over as a day of celebrating love and romance?

Blame Chaucer.

Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem “Parlement of Foules” to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. Very loosely translated, (though it was written in English, we’re talking really Old English), he states…”on this Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird chooses his mate.”

Sidebar: King Richard II’s parents were first cousins, he is believed to have suffered from personality disorder/s, and when his wife passed away, their marriage was childless. Fascinating stuff.

Poets of the time also adopted Chaucer’s romanticizing of Saint Valentine’s Day, and – considering there was no Twitter, Facebook, email or internet in the 1400’s – the concept took off. Poetry and love letters, signs of affection, or “symbols of my deepest, abiding regard” were delivered to chosen mates.

So, how do we celebrate Valentine’s Day today?

Very expensively.

  • Can you believe it’s estimated that over $14 billion dollars is spent per year for Valentine’s Day?
  • The first box of chocolates specifically targeted to Valentine’s Day was created by some guy called Richard Cadbury, in 1868 – yes! That Cadbury!
  • Men are the largest purchasers of flowers (73%) – which kind of makes sense, as most men I know would prefer to receive a bouquet of international beer versus a lovely bunch of red roses…
  • Valentine’s Day is the second busiest card-exchanging day of the year, and women are the biggest sector of buyers (85%).
  • The Valentine’s Day industry is a serious business, and there can be serious repercussions. On average, 11,000 children are conceived on Valentine’s Day (I can attest to this!), and 53% of women would end their relationship if they don’t receive anything on Valentine’s Day (Really? REALLY?)

We celebrate Valentine’s Day in a very low key fashion in my home. There are no commercial gifts, but we do make it special. A special meal – either home-cooked or ordered in, candles, the good set of cutlery and crockery… and three children who argue over who is going to blow out the candles AS SOON AS THIS IS OVER! Totally romantic, but we all have fun.

My ultimate date would involve a) no kids, b) an intimate time with my partner. Maybe in front of a roaring log fire with a fine bottle of red wine. Maybe lounging on a deck watching waves roll in with a chilled bottle of white wine. Maybe dinner in a restaurant that actually believes mood lighting shouldn’t come in flouro.  Or a casual couple of hours in a pub with good live music in the background. But no matter the scenery or the activity, the one constant is sharing time and conversation with my partner.

What is your ultimate Valentine’s Day date?

Leave a comment and you can go into the draw to win a pair of sterling silver and amethyst cubic zirconia earrings! Winner will be announced on 17th February.


10 responses

  1. Helen

    Hi Shannon

    Great post

    We don’t spend a lot of money usually either and normally have a nice dinner at home but tonight we are going to see Rod Stewart at The Entertainment Centre after having dinner at China Town

    Have Fun

    February 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

  2. Okay, that’s a pretty cool Valentine’s Day date! Very romantic, time with your partner listening to a crooner. Have a wonderful time!

    February 14, 2012 at 10:53 am

  3. Fabulous post Shannon!! We’re not really huge on Valentine’s Day but sometimes I WISH we were. My perfect date would be a night away somewhere, dinner, some wine and just spending some quality time together which is rare at the moment 🙂

    February 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    • Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say no to diamonds, or a fancy restaurant, but I think it’s having the attention and focus of a gorgeous man that takes my fancy!

      February 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm

  4. I’ll be having a virtual date as my husband is away at the moment. Was greeted this morning with a link to a youtube video of a beautiful Malamute (we used to have one) doing the howly-yowly talking that Malamutes do, and yes, it did sound like “I love you.” Tonight we’ll catch up on Skype.

    February 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm

  5. Thanks for that, Shiona!
    I realise it must be hard when your partner is out of arms reach, and yet I think a Malamute howly-yowly sounds really romantic! Hope you guys connect on Skype! Just think of the welcome home!

    February 14, 2012 at 10:09 pm

  6. Hey, Shannon! So all that history stuff piqued your interest, huh? 😀

    I like your idea of some alone time, an open fire, by the beach… Dumping of a partner on the day – well, I *could* see how that would happen it if were, say, the last straw in a list of issues. OTOH, no present for a birthday, and that definitely requires a kick to the kerb!

    February 15, 2012 at 8:24 am

  7. Okaaay, so you’re dream Valentine’s Day date is dumping his ass? Interesting spin. It’s giving me plenty of fodder for a future story!

    February 15, 2012 at 8:38 am

  8. The winner for the ‘Seeing Red – Ultimate Valentine’s Day Date’ Contest is….. SHIONA!!!!
    Thanks for participating Shiona. Can you please email your postal address to: contactme@shannoncurtis.com, and I’ll make the necessary arrangements to send your prize out to you!

    Again, thank you, and thanks to all who entered! Come back again for more posts, and more contests!

    February 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm

  9. Woo-hoo! That’s fabulous Shannon – thank you so much. And i love the look of the earrings – just my style.

    February 19, 2012 at 8:11 am

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