It would be remiss of me not to mark the greatest of all days that is chocolate, flowers and cake … whoops, I mean St Valentine (patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages)!
In the UK, Valentine’s Day is an occasion for people to express feelings of romantic love, usually in the form of cards or gifts to their partner or somebody for whom they have romantic feelings. Often sent anonymously and consisting of a variety of delights in the form of chocolates, red roses (anything else is considered frugal), champagne, lingerie and a surprise meal. Prices spike for all the aforementioned items and premiums are charged – waiting till the ‘sale’ is considered bad form. Just a point of note for any men reading this, please don’t consider these to be either/or options – all, are especially appreciated and received with great affection 🙂
Given the above, it’s always been a day filled with slight awe and yet anguish. At school, you would send a Valentine’s card (or a few, should you prefer to keep you options open), in the vain hope that you would receive at least one from an unknown admirer (which only lasted until their friends let you in on the secret to great mirth) to know that someone somewhere thought you were special. Not to receive one was a distraught experience. Less said about that the better …
As the years progress and boyfriends appear on the scene, it is obligatory to shower love and devotion on the man of the minute, and fast forward again, to married life when it’s a divorceable offence to forget or not put much thought into it. So interesting to note the difference this year now we’re residing over the Atlantic and how the same day is marked. And there are notable differences I can tell you.
Whilst I can’t talk for the whole of Canada, certainly in our immediate location, St Valentine’s Day is regarded as a day of appreciation and an opportunity to make it visible how much you appreciate others and those around you. Those more cynical, may class this as a mere commercial opportunity to widen the target market for cards and chocolate to the greater community, but there is something positive about encouraging each other to show gratitude and genuine human love and warmth to friends, colleagues and neighbours. Cards, chocolates, flowers, candy … and more chocolate … are the commodities of choice with no one batting an eyelid or thinking twice about issuing such items to work colleagues. ‘Happy Valentines Day’ is the common phrase of turn at the checkouts and our local school embraced the concept whole-heartedly. My youngest kid has been encouraged to take cards for every child in her Kindergarten class (that’s 23 in total!) to tell them she loves them and yesterday was marked with a Valentine’s party and heart gifts aplenty. My middle kid – not used to this concept – felt slightly out of her depth when the exchanging of gifts, cards and sweets between friends was taking place – not having gone prepared with any provisions in exchange. That said, she gratefully accepted all the gifts laid upon her and declared upon leaving school in the afternoon ‘this was the greatest day at school, ever’, and clearly her earlier reservations were laid to rest in lieu of copious amounts of chocolate waded on her.
It’s a lovely thing to do and in this day and age of aggression, violence and terror, it’s nice to celebrate others around you and show them how much you appreciate them. It brings out the best part of human nature.
There is a downside though. With this being such commonplace and gifts galore to all and sundry, how then do you let someone know that there’s more to the gift than mere platonic gratitude? I’ll just leave that statement hanging and thank the Lord that I’m not back in my early teens amidst the minefield that is St Valentines Day.
So, how did we celebrate? Well, a trip to the local British import store and the stocking up on cordial, Bisto gravy granules and Cussons Imperial Leather soap. Some things just can’t be replicated although I didn’t turn down the chocolates, wine, jewellery and red roses that were also proffered!
Happy Valentines Day 🙂