Originally published 12 February 2009

Valentine’s Day has come around again and we are being told how best to spend it with our loved one.

The newspapers give us tips on what to do to enhance the romance in our lives and of course, there are lots of adverts to advise us of the essential things we must buy to prove our love on this special day.

Did You Know?

There were several Saint Valentines and it was on their day, the 14th of February, when the birds were fabled to choose their mates. There have been many myths since that time. For example: – ‘The first person of the opposite sex to be seen on that day was assigned to a mock betrothal for a year’. Even if that was ever accepted and implemented it was almost certain to be abandoned long before the time was up.

Why, other than for commercial profit, do couples need this as a special day to express their devotion? Shouldn’t they be doing it all of the time? They already have birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas and Easter when the shops are full of cards that can be exchanged to cater for every kind of relationship. The only people that should be involved with Saint Valentine’s Day are individuals who are unattached.

Not so long ago, the custom was for a card to be sent to a certain member of the other sex who you were infatuated by but didn’t have the courage to do anything about it. These cards, often home-made, would express the feelings of the sender but would never reveal their identity.

They were rarely sent by post. More often popped in a letterbox when no one was at home or slipped unobserved into a coat pocket in a cloakroom. There was always a way! It was not unusual for children to send one to their teacher and I believe that many women, both married and single, regularly targeted their Doctor.

At this time Saint Valentines was a fun day for most people. Single girls would boast about how many cards they received. They didn’t mind who they were from because it was never divulged. It might not have been quite so good for a married person to get one.

If it was not shown to their partner when it arrived they had a dilemma. Even if it was shared with them right away, they might still insist you had an idea who sent it and claim something must have been done to encourage them.

If it was kept from them for a while and it turned out they had sent it to you as a joke, an explanation was required as to why it had been withheld until now. It might then be construed that you had a good idea who it was from? A ‘no win’ situation that I am sure many married and bespoke young ladies had to deal with.

Girls and young women were far less approachable in those days than they are now. While many more boys and young men tended to be shy and reserved in their company. A Saint Valentine’s card gave both sexes an opportunity to express to someone they found fascinating exactly how they felt about them with no fear of any consequences. It was never meant to be a day for loving couples.

This event in our calendar, that hitherto has been linked to folklore and tradition and given excitement and pleasure to people in our towns and villages for many years, has become yet another victim of so called progress.

All such occasions had their own mystery and intrigue that added to the stimulation and fun on the day. It would seem, as things are nowadays, no one is able to indulge in the simple traditional pleasures of life without being exploited by the commercial barons who see everything as a means to profit.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Everyone, please do your best to make it an unpredictable and convivial time. If you receive a Valentine’s card, at least you will know there is someone out there who loves you!

valley lad – [FORTY-ONE]