With the passing of Valentine's Day yesterday I was again bemused by the plethora of differing attitudes and reactions one date in our calendar can invoke. Many years ago, when I was very young, I was firmly in the camp that the day was purely set aside for the desperate separates of society clinging fast to the hope that somebody somewhere was soppy enough and dopey enough to waste money trying to convince them they were a good catch! The card shop windows swamped with cute teddies and giant love hearts caused a shake of the head and a small laugh as men all over the town centre were rushing around with bunches of red roses under one arm, chocolates under another and a Clinton's carrier bag hanging off their fingers. I often wondered how they'd stop the roses wilting in their offices for the next few hours and whether they'd get home in time to make it to the restaurant with the 'special' menu for the night at the bargain price of 50% more than the usual specials of the night - because that was romantic - apparently.
Then I got married.
And for the first few years I stood firm to my belief it was all a load of nonsense and got nothing.
Then I started to get the hump.
People started saying that you didn't need a special day to declare your love to the one you love, as you should do that every day. Yes, you should. You should tell the one you love that you love them. It's not necessary to do it every day (some may disagree), but it should be regularly enough for them to be in no doubt that you do love them. In this respect Andy far outranks me in that - he's the more sentimental of the two of us. Having recently attended The Marriage Course, it was firmly established that Andy thrives on affirmation and words of love, I thrive on practical stuff - presents. Does that make me shallow and a prime candidate for the lure of the Clinton card shop, Thornton's selection and Interflora roses - well, yes, apparently it does!
I never thought I'd see the day I'd back down to admit it, but I now love Valentine's Day - to an extent.
Looking into the origins of Valentine's Day it seems the most common opinion is that Emperor Claudius II decided that marriage turned men into useless wimps, unable to man up to the requirements of war and thus outlawed that all young men should be banned from the banns. Apparently young Valentine, who is rumoured to have been one of three men in history, but commonly believed to be a priest, continued in secret to marry young people, believing the institution of marriage to be firmly part of God's plan for humankind, thus opposing the beliefs and instructions of the Emperor, who at the time had a rather strong penchant for chopping the heads off the odd Christian or two. Legend has it that the Emperor took exception to this and imprisoned the priest and from there the rumours abound. Some believe Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter and before his execution wrote her a note declaring his love, signing it 'from your Valentine'. A hopeless romantic dying for the love of his love. Others believe the Emperor actually rather liked him, until he tried to convert him to Christianity, at which point he incensed the Emperor who ordered his execution, thus martyring him - the date of death established in both cases as February 14th. Others believe that February 14th was declared Valentine's Day as an alternative to the following day's pagan festival of Lupercalia, believed to increase the fertility of women who were flogged with the blood soaked hides of sacrificed goats - but from there I digress and leave you to your own research on that one.
So, Valentine's Day. Romantic or Ridiculous? A bit of both really. But for me, the ridiculous is fast being overtaken by the romantic. It can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be, but for one day of the year, to make an effort to do something for the one you love is surely not too much. Which leads me to my earlier comment of loving Valentine's Day - to an extent. Keep it fun, keep it within budget and keep it with someone truly special.