Here’s a lighthearted article that I wrote recently for the Esperance Tide, our lovely local magazine. Enjoy!
In the third century AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus, a priest by the name of Valentinus was arrested, tortured, and then beheaded. His crime was attempting to convert a nobleman (or perhaps even the notoriously cranky Gothicus himself) to Christianity. According to legend, he also restored the sight of a blind girl, and probably officiated the marriages of Roman soldiers, who were forbidden to marry at the time. There may have even been two martyred priests called Valentinus, one of whom may have died on February 14th. Historians aren’t too sure. This is the surprisingly gory history of St. Valentine, patron saint of roses, chocolates, and making you feel bad if you don’t have a boyfriend in February.
Before everyone jumps in to correct me, St. Valentine is actually the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers. So if your lover is a beekeeper, or an epileptic, perhaps double up on the Valentine’s day celebrations! What else can you do to celebrate this day? Well, you could always visit the Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome, to visit what is supposedly St. Valentine’s skull, artfully decorated with flowers. The celebration of Valentine’s day probably sprang up as an alternative to the pagan Roman festival of Lupercalia. Some of the rituals around this festival celebrating fertility included matching up random couples (kind of like an ancient ‘Married at First Sight’). It also featured young men running around in goat skins, nearly naked, whipping at women to supposedly enhance their fertility. So to celebrate Valentine’s day, you could always strip off and run around in a goat skin. For a more modern approach, in the 14th Century, Chaucer popularised Valentine’s day as a day for lovers. People began to write love notes signed ‘your Valentine’ around this time. One of these earliest remaining notes, from the 15th Century, was written by Charles d’Orleans to his wife. It reads “I am already sick of love, my very gentle valentine.” While Charles probably meant ‘lovesick’, you could try writing a love note telling your lover that you are ‘sick of love’. It’s sure to be a winner.
Confused yet? Ok, here are some helpful tips for celebrating the big V day. You can thank me later. Maybe even on Valentine’s day. I like chocolates, by the way….
Single on Valentine’s day? Ah, this is the best! You can make lots of comments about how commercialised the day is, and tally up just how much money you’re saving on cheesy greeting cards and overpriced flowers. Make plans to treat yourself to a luxurious bath or a glass of wine and some choccies. Maybe all three at once!!! You could phone up your single friends, and get the lads around for an evening of, I don’t know, what is it that blokes do when they hang out? Talk about football and get pedicures? Or go out for an evening of cocktails and dancing, and drunkenly tell all the girls in the bathrooms how much you love their outfits.
Here are some don’ts! Don’t text your ex. No really, it’s a bad idea and it will end with you crying into a tub of icecream. Trust me. And do not, whatever you do, attempt to strike up a romance with a potential partner on this day. Is that really what you want your love story to be? Trust me, your future kids won’t think it’s cute. They’ll roll their eyes and swear off Valentine’s day forever. Do you think that’s what St. Valentine would have wanted? I think not!
Aw, aren’t you guys cute? Now I know you’re already reaching for the credit card, but before you do, make sure you do your homework. The best kind of V-day gifts are thoughtful ones. Her favourite kind of flowers. A jumper in a colour that really brings out his eyes. A new puppy. Me personally, I like chocolates. Did I mention that yet?
So go out for a romantic picnic in a special location (not Lover’s Cove, there will be 10 other couples there already). Make a home cooked dinner. Or even write a love note. Just don’t put it all over Facebook. You don’t want ‘In Love Forever’ coming up in your memories every year once you’ve broken up, do you?
Long Term Relationship-ers
This is where you have to really put in some effort if you want to keep the magic alive. Take some tips from everyone’s favourite Aussie Romeo, and try a bit of Darryl Kerrigan romance. “Whaddya call this, luv? Icecream? Yeah, but it’s the way you do it.” Make sure you put in the effort to keep yourself looking good for your partner. Maybe put on your matching tracksuits and go for a bit of a Kath and Kel powerwalk. Being a foxy moron takes work, you know.
On the other hand, by this time you should really know what your partner wants on a special occasion. Trust me, it’s not flowers or greeting cards. It’s probably just a bit of a quiet lie down with that book they started months ago. Or chocolates. Let’s say Ferrero Rochers, for example…..
So there you have it. While historical Valentines day is a confusing mishmash of beheadings, goat skins, and love notes, fortunately you have me to give you some modern-day advice! Just don’t forget to be kind and romantic to your lover all year round, not just on the 14th of Feb. And if all else fails, ask yourself what St. Valentine would have wanted. Probably a bit more time still attached to his head, but then again, what do I know?