Every year as February 14 approaches, people start getting twitchy about Valentine’s Day.
Will I get a card/won’t I? Who will send one? Will my partner remember? There’s more to this age old tradition than you probably think!
There are a number of early Christian martyrs called Valentine, but it was Chaucer who way back in 1382 provides the first written reference linking Valentine’s Day with romantic love, with the words “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.
In 1600/01, Shakespeare mentions Valentine’s Day in Hamlet:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
Roses are Red
As children, we all learn the famous rhyme Roses are Red, but like many childhood verses, (including the plague in ‘Ring a Ring o Roses’) it too is as old as the hills, first making an appearance in 1590 in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene
She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.
In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, with verses for sentimental but uninspired young men to copy. By this time, printers had already begun producing cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a drop in the cost of postage in the 1800’s encouraged more people to send Valentines. It also made it possible to send cards anonymously, and the prudish Victorians saw that as a cover for sending cheeky verses! These Valentines became so popular that factories started making them, initially with real lace and ribbons, and paper lace coming later.
With the passage of time and onset of commercialisation, Valentine’s Day has become the national obsession that it is today, with all kinds of things now available for the loved one of your dreams.
Take a walk down any high street and at this time of year you’ll find that every shop has jumped on the bandwagon, offering you an assortment of food, cards, presents and gifts, all trimmed up with red and black, lace and hearts, all designed to get single people flirting and couples declaring their love!
Valentine’s Day is also a time when you can enjoy all kinds of special offers and treats in our local restaurants and hotels. Let’s face it, on the Fylde Coast there are plenty of places to take your loved one for a treat, from the local burger van right through to a five star slap up treat!
Joking about burger vans apart, a romantic spot would be a good idea to start with, and what better place can you think of than the seafront setting of The Venue, where you can enjoy a meal and entertainment overlooking the waters edge. Or for an evening with a twist, what about the great British tradition, fish and chips at the UKs best fish and chip shop at Seniors at Thornton?
2012 was a leap year, so there are a few more to go before the one-in-four year additional calendar day of 29 February.
There are different theories as to the origin of why ladies were allowed to propose on 29 February, it’s most probably because a leap year disturbs the ordinary rhythm of days/months and years – so why not have a change from normal convention. It’s easy to forget that it’s only a couple of generations since a time when it would have been unheard of for a woman to propose to a man at any other time! Leap years are held as an excellent time to start anything new – business ventures and relationships alike – and particularly anything that is started in the 24 hours of February 29 itself.
The final word on a woman’s marriage proposal on 29 February goes to the legendary Zsa Zsa Gabor who proposed to each one of her nine husbands, and said ‘A woman has to make up a mans mind’!