This year’s Valentine’s Day is, for most people, like no other in their lives. COVID-19 has not only forced adventurous couples to postpone any plans for an exotic getaway but also thwarted others opting for the more traditional celebration of a candlelit dinner in a favourite restaurant.
Nevertheless, one of the advantages of Valentine’s Day – compared with other celebrations such as weddings that have been more seriously disrupted by health restrictions – is that there are still many ways of expressing your love.
Gift giving – from a bunch of red roses to jewellery – happily remains unaffected by the current rules limiting mobility. From the comfort and safety of your own home, you can (for example) view the MyWeddingAnniversary pages, which offer a rich and comprehensive diversity of gift ideas. Many are just as appropriate for Valentine’s Day as they are for wedding anniversary celebrations.
The many couples having to arrange dinners at home this year, rather than go out, can still explore the gourmet section of their local supermarket, and prepare a feast of sumptuous delicacies accompanied by a bottle (or two) of Champagne and finished off with a box of exquisite chocolates. Or, for those preferring to play it completely safe, shop online and arrange for home delivery.
We sincerely hope you are able to dine in person with your partner but, if that is not possible this year, most of us have had plenty of practice in recent months “Zooming”, so we are sure you will be able to find some creative of ways of adding a touch of romance to “distanced” celebrations.
In the meantime, with gifts and menu all sorted out, it’s time to relax with a pre-dinner aperitif and take some time to look back over Valentine’s Day traditions, classic celebrations, and fun and quirky facts…
Many urban legends have been forged around the origins of Valentine’s Day, but they all come back to a saint. One of the more common tales refers to a priest in the third century (AD) who, in defiance of an order by emperor Claudius – who outlawed marriage for young soldiers because he believed single men made better fighters than those with wives and families – secretly performed Christian weddings for couples. This allowed husbands to avoid conscription into the pagan army.
Reportedly, in order to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine cut hearts from parchment and gave them to persecuted Christmas. Hence (possibly) the current widespread prevalence of hearts on Valentine’s Day.
England: In the past, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, women in England would place five bay leaves on their pillows – at each corner and in the centre – to encourage dreams of their future husbands. Some would wet the bay leaves with rosewater and place them across the pillows.
Wales: Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, is celebrated on 25 January. A traditional romantic Welsh gift is a love spoon, which dates to the early 17th century, when Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved.
Finland: Valentine’s Day in Finland is celebrated as Ystävänpäivä, or Friend’s Day. Everybody is included… friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – as well as lovers.
Denmark: Some men give women a “gaekkebrev” (“joking letter”), which consists of a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut paper and signed with anonymous dots. If a woman who receives the “gaekkebrev” correctly guesses the sender, she is rewarded with an Easter egg later in the year.
France: The French claim that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France, when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Most Popular Gifts
One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, small, chocolate-covered “kisses” filled with hazelnuts and wrapped in a love quote printed in multiple languages (Italian, English, French, German, Greek, Spanish or Portuguese).
According to a Statista survey in the US, the most popular gifts remain fairly predictable, with a top-10 of:
- Greeting cards
- Romantic dinner
- Gift cards
(Sex toys came in at 14th – and pets at 16th.)
And the worst gifts? According to GiftCards.com, you should avoid:
- Anything weight-related
- Household products
- The cop out
- Anything too creative
- Just what YOU always wanted
- Panic present
- Cheap trick
Celebrities Married on Valentine’s Day
It might seem cheesy, but many celebrities over the years haven’t let that thwart them. These are just some of the famous couples who were married on 14 February…
- Pop legend Elton John and recording engineer Renate Blauel – 1984
- Actors Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan – 1991
- Rock star Prince and singer-dancer Mayte Garcia – 1996
- Then Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and All Saints singer Nicole Appleton – 2008
- Actress Salma Hayek and businessman Francois-Henri Pinault – 2009
- Actor Benedict Cumberbatch and theatre director Sophie Hunter – 2015
- Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and Vine star Brittany Furlan – 2019
With the new Chinese Year of the Ox (element: metal) having begun on 12 February, we checked out the potential compatibility of couples according to their animal and element signs…
Notes ChineseNewYear.com, “Rat’s fixed Earthly Branch is water, while Ox is earth. They have complementing personalities and hold the same goals in life.”
The Snake and Rooster are other animals that suit the Ox. “Not only will Snakes give warmth and romance, they offer help and support in work too. Honest and loyal, they can also be attracted to the Rooster’s soft and loving heart.”
And finally… a “red passion” recipe for Hennessy’s special Valentine’s brandy cocktail.
- 5 cl of Hennessy Very Special
- 5 mint leaves
- 4 raspberries
- 2 teaspoons of white sugar
- 2 cl of lime juice
- 2 dashes of angostura bitters
- ginger beer
In a tall glass, add the four raspberries and five mint leaves. Crush with a mortar while being careful not to break the mint. Add the Hennessy VS, lime juice and two teaspoons of white sugar. Add crushed ice and stir with a spoon. Top up with ginger beer, decorate with raspberries and add two dashes of angostura bitters.
Photos by Heather Ford, Nathan Dumlao, Edgar Chaparro and Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash; and Justine FG and greenchild from FreeImages