The most romantic day of the year is on 14 February. You cannot miss the build up to this day as most stores remind you to buy a card, present or flowers for that special person in your life. Personally I feel it has become very commercialised but I do think it is important to tell people how much they mean to you and how much you love them. This should take place every day though, not just on Valentine's Day!
I think to understand why we celebrate Valentine's Day and the etiquette to being the perfect valentine, you need to understand the history.
Valentine's Day as we know it is actually called Saint Valentine's Day or the feast of Saint Valentine, which is celebrated around the world and in fact some countries even have a public holiday. So who is Saint Valentine, you ask? Several early Christian martyrs were named Valentine, however, there is a legend a Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and who also preached to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. It is believed that during his imprisonment he healed his jailers daughter and before his execution he signed a letter with "your valentine".
The first recorded Association of Valentine's Day was in a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382. The poem was written in honour of the engagement between King Richard II England and Anne of Bohemia. The earliest description of 14 February with the annual celebration of love that appears in the charter on "the court of love". The charter is believed to have been issued by Charles VI of France in 1400.
The ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February. However, with the introduction of Christianity the holiday was moved to the 14th of February "the saint valentine day".During this period and beyond, gentlemen would write Romantic poems or letters to the lady they loved. In 1797, a British publisher issued the young man's valentine writers guide. This book gave a suggestion of sentimental words for gentlemen to compose their own poems. Sadly this book then paved way for mass production of valentines cards in the 19th century. These were made of paper, with lace and ribbons. It is estimated in 1835 that 60,000 valentines cards were sent in Britain alone.
Now as far is the etiquette goes for Valentine's Day. Number one on my list would be not to forget that Valentine's Day is on 14 February every year, so there is no excuse for anyone to forget and if any of you gentlemen forget, I truly pity you.
When it comes to gifts I sometimes feel people spend beyond their means, instead of keeping things simple. It is, after all, a celebration of love and not of material things. Even though it is appropriate to send a card, I would highly recommend a home-made card with a letter written by you, or if you're brave enough, a poem written by you. It doesn't need to be up to the standards of Robert Burns, but rather something you have penned and taken the time to write. These gestures will go down very well with your loved one.
Today, we live in a time when people tend to spend more time sending emails and text messages instead of a traditional letters, which is therefore why a letter is appreciated, even more than ever before. When it comes to gifts, there are several options; I always think it's nice if it could be something home made with meaning. An example is if you have a trade or profession that you make things, then could you make something for your loved one? If not, perhaps you could cook a meal, or if the budget allows, hire in a chef for the evening.
Another option is to take the loved one out for a meal which normally goes down very well, however you may find that several other couples are doing the exact same thing and you might not stand out in a crowd! If you do decide on a restaurant, then it is advisable to book in advance.
Flowers can be expensive but normally go down very well, of course you could try to pick some if there is somewhere you know you can get them without "borrowing" from the neighbours garden! Remember you may have to buy a vase for them to go into.
I can't write this blog without mentioning one of my all time favourites. Chocolate! This of course always goes down well as long as the recipient is not allergic or on a diet. A little fact finding might be necessary.
If your budget allows, you may decide to buy jewellery or something a little bit more extravagant, but this is personal preference and depending on if you think your loved one would appreciate this.
Another tradition that parents seem to do for their children is to give them an unsigned valentines card. I think this is so the children don't feel left out and I see no harm in this as it causes excitement for the child and creates a bit of positivity. On another note, I know some people will send a valentines card to someone who may have lost their soul mate. This kind of card or letter is to remind them how much they are loved by their family or friends and it is a lovely gesture. You may even decide to invite them for a meal or again, take them out for the evening.
I am sure I do not need to mention this but with all gifts a receiver should always follow up with a thank you. The thank you could be a letter or note no matter who gave the gift. This note will show them how much the gift meant to you. I think we can all be romantic when we put our minds to it. This occasion shouldn't come down to budget or the biggest card. It is more about love and this is something you should show each other every day in everything that you do for each other.