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?
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?
- 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.