A topical blog today (I do try!)… Happy Valentine’s day! That can mean whatever you choose. I think it is experienced in three different ways: the completely insufferable loved up couples who completely embrace the commercialism of it all; the single people who also then stem into two groups of the cynical and the ‘couldnt give a damn’ ones; and the people who just use it as an extra excuse to appreciate and spend time with loved ones (well just the one 😉 )
I fall into the the latter category. I didn’t always, as my boyfriend and I used to buy presents, go out for dinner and all that smoochy stuff. I think when you have been together so long then you go from the that category to just appreciating each other. My boyfriend, incidentally, is with his true love tonight (he does happen to have more than one!)… his rowing boat! No we haven’t spent the eve opening loved up pressies and having a romantic meal – he has at rowing and me? Well, I am sitting here writing about it! 😉 But, he is going to finish early – as to me ‘time’ is a more valuable gift than jewellery – not that I wouldn’t happily accept that too 😉
Yes, a lot of people hate Valentine’s day because they think it another occasion that they have to remember, spend money and conform to. But as I say, it can just be an extra excuse to spend quality time together. I say ‘extra’ excuse because it should be in addition to other special evenings. You shouldn’t need Valentine’s day to arrive in order to have a ‘date’ or to spend some romantic time together….. love shouldn’t be an annual event! But you can receive the day with a hug and a kiss and feel blessed to have a loved one. Even if you don’t have a romantic loved one, you can still feel lucky and grateful to have loved ones in your life. Or just stick on the chick flicks/get drunk with other single friends/eat chocolate – as you don’t have to share 😉
Let’s remember how Valentine’s Day began. Interestingly, it wasn’t associated with romantic love until the middle ages. Before this, it was a date to celebrate numoerous Christian saints called ‘Valentinus’. The 14th of February was the day they were ‘honoured’. Then one particular ‘Saint Valentine’ was focussed on when we look back to history and he was thought to be imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and before he was executed he left a note saying ‘From your Valentine.’ Which could explain why it is typical to sign your cards as that now.
But yes the romantic love idea came more into play during the time of Chaucer, where ‘courtly love’ was popular. By the 15th century, this date became a day to present loved ones with confectionary, flowers and hand-made cards. It was from the 19th Century that mass-produced cards replaced the ‘hand made cards’. Sad really, but I am sure there are still some people out there that do make their own personalised Valentine’s.
Also, don’t forget Cupid, who is a symbol or icon of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love and affection. Cupid carries an arrow with a golden, sharp tip and who ever gets hit with it, experiences uncontrollable desire. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he also had a second arrow with a lead point and this was for negative purposes – it would cause the person to run away. I didn’t realise this until it was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet where Romeo says that Rosalind won’t be hit by the right arrow and return his love. I love this idea about Cupid as it has a dual effect and shows that love is two-sided. It can be lovely and amazing but also painful and hurtful – reflected by his two arrows!
I have to share you my favourite love poem with you today to finish off. I have mentioned it in a blog before so that may be why it seems familiar (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/). I think it shows what should be important about Valentine’s Day and realising the reality of love:
Not a red rose or a satin heart
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
So there you have it. You may have flowers today. Or a necklace. Or some chocolate. But it doesn’t have all that emotion and meaning to it like an onion does it?! I love this poem as it shows that love starts and stops like the stanzas and the lines. Love clings to you, whether you want it to or not, like the stench of an onion onto your skin. It is honest about love and a brilliant metaphor for love.
There you go, we have the history of Valentine, cupid and how the day has changed, all for a modern poet to say that love is a vegetable! 😉
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day in which ever way you choose 🙂