“Dear Natalie, Valentine’s Day is approaching and I know it’s just one big marketing ploy but I still want to do something with my new boyfriend. How should I bring this up?”
Sure, Valentine’s Day is really only a huge marketing scheme, but its history is pretty much the best history of any holiday.
St Valentine’s Day has its roots in both Christian and Roman histories. Early St Valentine’s Days were celebrated in the name of at least one of the Christian saint -- Valentinus. He has various legends tied to him, but all end in his martyrdom.
The most common tale says Valentinus was caught marrying Christian couples which at the time were being persecuted in Rome. During his imprisonment he befriended the Roman Emperor Claudius, but after Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor, he was condemned to death, beaten and beheaded. His head is actually preserved in an abbey in Hampshire.
Another tale says during his time in prison he healed a young girl’s blindness and on the day of his execution left her a love note signed “Your Valentine” a tradition we still see today.
Ah, romance. The romantic part of the day started in the High Middle Ages, when courtly love flourished. By the 1700s, St Valentine’s Day had become a day for lovers to give flowers, baked goods and cards known as valentines. “Saint Valentine’s Keys” were also given to lovers to “unlock one’s heart” and to children to prevent “St Valentine’s Malady” or epilepsy.
Now Valentine’s Day is a huge commercial holiday. Prices of roses, especially red roses, rise every year around now and Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular holidays for sending cards, second only to Christmas in fact. Some figures say that one billion valentine cards are exchanged in the US alone per year.
But enough of my love for Valentine’s Day, if you want to do something for Valentine’s Day, bring it up. Talk to your boyfriend. I can’t tell you if he has a secret hatred of the romantic holiday or if he’s planning a huge romantic gesture that’s under wraps. Ask him if he wants to go out on February 14 for dinner and a movie or whatever other activity you want to do.
Valentine’s is what you make of it. It doesn’t have a big romantic dinner with roses and chocolates. If he wants to write a song in your honour, good for him -- please send The Ubyssey a copy. But you can also just enjoy each other’s company.
Valentine’s does fall on a Saturday this year, so it might be nice to do something during the day. A walk around Stanley Park would be nice, if the weather is up for it or if you don’t mind the rain. Visit some of the other parks and gardens (check out the UBC Botanical Gardens which are located right on campus and free for UBC students).
Have fun, be happy and enjoy the most commercialized romantic day of the year.
“Dear Natalie, any ideas for what to write in a Valentine card?”
Vintage valentines are amazing. The original “roses are red” poem from 1784:
“The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”
A valentine for the hopeful: “Our eyes have met;
Our lips not yet,
But if there’s hope
And I’m not a joke,
I’d make the test
And call you my Valentine!”
In case you wanted to make a big impression, use this from 1850: “Weddings now are all the go, Will you marry me or no?”
If you’re looking for something from this side of the 1900s, I propose the following:
“You give me more feels than Drake.”
“I love you so much I don’t resent the fact you ate the last slice of pizza. But it was stuffed crust and if you do it again I’m breaking up with you.”
“You’re the One. I text when I’m drunk. That’s love.”
“There is nobody else I’d rather lie in bed and look at my phone next to.”
“I love you more than Kanye loves Kanye.”