When nothing really happens and the only things that lightens up the day are the shopping trips to Sainsbury’s, Tesco or Waitrose. Oh, I could write a whole blog about the pros and cons, the product mix, and the efficiency of the employees of this three British supermarkets but I’m not sure, if someone would be really interested about it. Maybe next time if the general boredom keeps going on. Another daily highlight is the development level of the snowdrops, choirboys, crocus and daffodils. I never lived in a country with so many wild flowers before, or maybe just never so rural and with so much time to look at the small things. Oh and not to forget the wildlife, the birds, the deer’s and squirrel’s which are quite lazy at the moment and barely move when you pass by. Even our dog doesn’t really impress them anymore. Last time a squirrel turned around, positioned itself in a perfect crane kick pose (or maybe better cobra pose thanks to Cobra Kai) and the staring contest between the two started. Unfortunately I can’t report about the outcome because I needed to interrupt because I started to freeze. Sorry about that and sorry about zoning out, back to shopping. Yesterday at Tescos, while I was trying to make the best out of my weekly shopping trip, I was wondering, between all this chocolate, cards, flowers, champagne and red hearts, what’s all the fuss is about. We never really celebrated Valentines Day back in Switzerland, it was more something for new lovebirds and especially for the flower and chocolate market. In the US I was always amazed when I picked up the girls from school on the 14th, hands full with chocolate, cards and sweets. And I missed every year to buy something for the class mates, even so I was born in the land of chocolate, shame on me. I don’t think they do this here in the UK (or did I missed something?) it’s something between grown-up’s again.
But why do we celebrate Valentines day at all? I did some research and even the historian are arguing about the exact source from which the present day celebration style took inspiration. The day got it’s name from a Saint called Valentine, but who was Valentine? And like always if you’re going back in history it gets quite dark and bloody. There were two guys called Valentine which got executed on the 14th of February by Emperor Claudius the 2nd, albeit in different years. Some believe that the Catholic Church have established St. Valentine’s Day in order to honor these two men, who where supposed to be martyrs. On of them Saint Valentine of Terni, officiated secretly weddings for Roman soldiers against the emperor’s wishes and that brings the Love aspect into the game. The other simply was called Valentine and had bad luck or was he the guy that wrote a letter to his girlfriend before his death, signed with “from your Valentine”? Nobody knows it exactly, there should be even more Valentine’s who died on that day. Literally the 14th. is not the best day for the Valentine’s among us. The Romans provide the background for the next source too: from 13th to the 15th of February they celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. Apparently were the men drunk and naked and the young women would line up for the men to hit them. Because they believed this would make them fertile… I’m not really convinced that the women lined up voluntarily. Women are born intelligent since ever, the only thing that developed over the decades is the power. However, later on the church forced the men to wear clothes during the festivities and the feast lost a lot of its attraction…
Apparently around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” Galatin and Valentine sound quite alike, possibly that confusion was the origin of Valentine’s Day. Or arose Galatin’s Day after all from the US sitcom Parks and Recreation? And that’s unambiguously the problem with googling: afterwards you’re often more confused than before. Anyway, Gal’s Day is celebrated February the 13th now and you can treat your gal pals with chocolate and flowers. And they certainly don’t slap you with a hide to make you fertile. They love you just the way you are, even infertile. (think back about the thing with the intelligence). Sorry about zoning out again, back to St. Valentine.
Others believe that the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th-century work “The Parlement of Foules”. It describes a group of birds which gather together in the early spring (on ‘seynt valentynes day) to choose their mates for the year. Therefore, they claimed that Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as we know it today. Back then, February 14 also happened to be considered the first day of spring in Britain, because it was the beginning of birds’ mating season – perfectly appropriate for a celebration of affection. As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare (Ophelia spoke of herself as Hamlet’s Valentine) romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the “must have” in the Middle Ages. The oldest known Valentine note still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. It’s now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London (he called her his very gentle Valentine) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a Valentine note to Catherine of Valois. Looks like that this was the cornerstone that turned Valentine’s day into big business, like it is today. This year’s Valentine’s Day sales are expected to be around 18 billions (pound, dollar or swiss franc, it doesn’t matter I took an average). So the chance is quite big that you get something for Valentine’s day. Otherwise just to be safe and not to be empty handed, buy yourself some boxes of Lindor balls (on sale at Tesco’s) like I did. Because yes sure, all you need is love. but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt no one.
Enjoy your Valentine’s day, go for a long romantic walk (what else can you do), eat some chocolate and don’t get whipped with hide.