I had someone ask me this week if I thought Valentine’s Day was worth all the hype. She lamented that it was really a Hallmark invention and not worth the effort. The truth is that Valentine’s Day has been around for millennia. We have been celebrating it in its present form since the Middle Ages when St. Valentine secretly wed some Roman soldiers. But before St. Valentine, February 15th was a wildly popular Pagan celebration of fertility called Lupercalia. It was celebrated into the 5th century A.D, so Valentine’s Day has some serious tradition backing it. If you want to re-enact it, Lupercalia was defined by naked participants chasing women around the town square gently spanking them with goat hides. How very 50 shades of them.
But if you are not in the mood to dance naked under the full moon in order to increase your fertility (and in Ottawa during February it’s a bit chilly for that), then what are the traditional or maybe non-traditional ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your sweetie?
Historically, Valentine’s day is about love notes. A creative poem, love letter, or heartfelt message that you only send to your significant other. Most people don’t send Valentine’s cards to their Grandparents. I think Valentine’s Day should inspire your romantic creativity. It’s also the time of year when you pause and say to your lover that “they have your heart” and that “you would choose them all over again”. A homemade card is the perfect way to express how you feel about someone. My husband draws stick figures on a regular page of white paper and accompanies them with his ribald, and very funny rhyming poetry. They are treasured by everyone who gets them for any occasion but his Valentine’s Day efforts are legendary and are for my eyes only.
According to that shopping group that measures our spending the average North American spends $126 on Valentine’s Day and is anticipating to spend more this year. Most of that is on items like flowers and chocolate. As a therapist working with couples I know it is effort that matters. Doing something together that is memorable and out of the ordinary is what makes a difference in relationships. Most women when asked about the best date they have ever had with their sweetie mentioned the involvement of some kind of adventure. What is the one thing your partner has always wanted to do? Valentine’s Day can be the day to make that wish come true.
My favourite story involved a friend of mine and occurred when she was a student. Her boyfriend at the time convinced her to take a walk in the woods in mid February. At a designated spot he blindfolded her and lit a campfire that he had set up earlier in the day. Her Valentine’s picnic included a bottle of wine chilling in the snow, heart shaped cookies and a thermos of hot chocolate.
The truth is that Valentine’s Day can be what you make it. It may be a new release movie, a specially prepared dinner or a tub of Haagen-Dazs and candlelight. What is important is that you do some eye gazing and say something heartfelt. Don’t pass up the opportunity.