It’s Valentine’s Day this week and the world becomes obsessed with sending hearts, buying flowers, munching on chocolates and did we get a secret valentines card or not? I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to receive a card or flowers from a secret admirer. However it’s not about celebrating one day, we should be falling in love every day.
So how did this date become a permanent fixture in our calendar, lets start with the romans. They had a festival called the feast of Lupercalia, between 13th -15th February. This according to Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado, included some of the usual roman festival antics of sacrifices, whipping women, getting naked and drinking too much. There was also a lottery for men to pick a women’s name from a jar, they would then be coupled for the duration of the celebration. A little like some peoples idea of spending a wild weekend in Amsterdam or Ibiza today! Why the 14th though, well that’s down to Emperor Claudius II, who executed 2 men called Valentine that were later honoured by the Catholic Church, hence St Valentine’s Day.
Consequently zooming forward into the middle ages, when William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer put quill to parchment human romantic love became associated with this day. Chaucer’s poem explains an event that that happens every year on the same day called a Parliament of Fowls!
This is a small exert from the poem that paints a beautiful picture;
For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,
When every fowl comes there his mate to take,
Of every species that men know, I say,
And then so huge a crowd did they make,
That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake
Was so full, that there was scarcely space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.
And as Alain, in his Complaint of Nature,
Describes her array and paints her face,
In such array might men there find her.
So this noble Empress, full of grace,
Bade every fowl to take its proper place
As they were wont to do from year to year,
On Saint Valentine’s Day, standing there.
The day of the event in the poem is the 14th of February, the same as the Roman’s first day of Spring. Indeed, we too see the birds busying themselves, trees budding, daffodils pushing through the soil reaching for the sky and the possibility of sunlight, the joy too of evenings getting slowly lighter. Noticing these subtle changes in the things that Mother Nature shares with us makes my heart sing.
Not Just About Money
Not until 1913 did Valentine’s Day become big business for Hallmark cards, with sales in 2017 reaching $19.5 billion dollars. Will spending money make you love a person more, or indeed make them feel more loved.? Will you feel differently about them? I don’t believe so.
My trigger for writing this, I am sitting watching someone I love, reading his book. The way his jumper wraps itself about him giving him a wooly hug. The light catching his profile, following the contours of his face, as his eyes drink in the words on the page, and that secret smile of pure enjoyment, as he indulges in one of his passions.
This is a pure bliss moment. Where he steals my heart without doing anything. It is in these small moments, where we are present, that we fall in love again.
Falling in love with life, the things around us, and noticing how it makes us feel, opens us up to endless possibilities -weather we see obstacles or opportunities.
Have a listen to Dewitt Jones, a National Geographic photographer who shares the lenses of possibilities in his TED Talk
So however your Valentine’s Day turns out, it is your choice to enjoy it.
Sending you a virtual card, filled with endless possibilities.