“Valentinus”—from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful. It doesn’t conjure up images of romantic love perpetuated by Valentine’s Day, does it?
Bombarded with images of hearts, flowers and chocolates as we approach 14th February, I have had to switch off the television. I don’t think it’s only those of us who have been bereaved that find this overwhelming. I think it’s a pressure for everyone to demonstrate how much they love their other half.
No longer is it enough to buy a bunch of red roses or go out for a candlelit supper. Oh no, you have to perform in the kitchen and produce an award-winning creation in strawberries, meringue AND cream complete with homemade sugar candy floss! If you’ve not created it yourself it’s not worthy. Woah betide any unlucky soul who is caught out with the “Dine-in for two” packaging in the bin!
A potted history…
I’ve had a look at the origins of St Valentine of Rome and most historians agree that he met a rather gruesome death on 14th February at the behest of Emperor Claudius II in AD 270 for marrying Christian couples. Might just be me, but doesn’t it seem an odd occasion to be commemorating with hearts and flowers?
St. Valentine has wide-ranging spiritual responsibilities but it is his interventions in relation to beekeeping that gives him particular appeal to me as a Mancunian. Of course, being Patron Saint of married couples shouldn’t be overlooked here.
However, there doesn’t seem to be a record of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375. In his poem “Parliament of Foules,” he links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate.
For those of us who don’t have anyone to celebrate romantically with this week, I offer you this heartfelt poem from one of my favourites, E E Cummings:
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)…
You can read the rest here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/49493/i-carry-your-heart-with-mei-carry-it-in
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder & Market Innovation Director
Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA
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