Va-Va-Va-Valentines Day!

A Card. Red Roses. Chocolate. Champagne. A posh meal. When it comes to Valentine’s day there are plenty of cliché gifts – and the good news is they’ll almost certainly be well received.

But strip away the consumer-fest that Valentine’s day has become and you find that at heart the celebration are, well, real beating hearts. 14th February has become the designated day of the year for reminding the one you love just how much you really do love them – and spoiling them a bit.

But how and where did it all start, (no, we don’t mean ‘the Thunderbolt’ between Adam and Eve) who was St. Valentine and why is February 14th his day.  And, what can you do to make this Saturday a different kind of special for the love of your life…Like lots of festivals and rituals, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have its roots firmly fixed in a single faith or religion. History is a little sketchy on who, exactly, St. Valentine was. The Catholic Church for instance notes three Saints with the name Valentine or similar.

There are legends of a priest named Valentinus from ancient Rome, there’s the Pagan fertility festival of Luperci (which was alleged to have been hijacked by Christians and turned into the Valentine’s Day feast). One thing that is certain is that celebrating what we know as St Valentine’s Day – on February 14th – was made official by Pope Galisius in the 5th Century AD.

All of the various legends and folklore point to people who sacrificed themselves for romance in some way. Roman Priest Valentinus – for example – went against the will of Claudius II and performed clandestine marriages. Claudius had outlawed marriage for young men in the belief that they would make better soldiers if they were not beholden.

Along with other legends, it’s a deed that is typical of the heroic-risking-his-own-life-for-the-romanitic-happiness-of-others that the various Valentine’s have become famous for. Oddly though. the 14th February didn’t take on a romantic twist until the middle ages – at which point it was thought that bird’s mating seasons began on 14th February. But as with many rituals and traditions – in the UK it was the Victorians who took the card thing to another level, putting the cutting-edge mass printing technologies to use making cards and  greetings.

So what do you have planned for Valentines? Will you be playing it safe with the tried and tested fayre that we mentioned in the introduction? Or will you be getting creative with a bold romantic gesture of some description?

According to The Guardian, surveys put the average spend per Brit at between £24 and £80. That’s quite some margin of error – so we say don’t focus on the cost of the gift – focus on the effect it will have.

For some an expensive weekend away in Sorrento might be the thing, whilst for others a simple romantic stroll along the South Bank, taking in cocktail or two oat one the the riverside bars could be more. Or, if it’s a crisp and clear night you could head up to Primrose Hill with a flask of Hot Chocolate, a hip flask of Irish Cream and a picnic blanket. Then pour 2 cups to taste and just sit, taking in London’s grandeur.

Whatever you decide to do we hope you have a fun, enjoyable and romantic St. Valentine’s Day.