Valentine’s Day hasn’t featured in any of my novels, but there’s always a possibility that it might one day. The significance of the date has morphed a long way from the original Feast of St Valentine, though he has been associated with romance since the 14th century.
Over the years, it has been customary for lovers, or would-be lovers to exchange tokens on this day. The simple gifts and hand-written cards have given way to masses of flowers (okay – red roses), chocolate, jewellery, engagements and for some a wedding.
It has never featured strongly in my life. Not on a personal level anyway. As a celebrant it certainly did. I recall one year when 14 February fell on a Saturday and I had three weddings scheduled – two of them on the beach on a day that hit 40 degrees. I was able to convince one bride, after reviewing the weather forecast, that standing barefoot on the sand in the glaring mid-afternoon sun was not a good idea. She wasn’t really convinced until I assured her that none of her guests would budge out of the shade or the air-conditioned bar of the nearest hotel.
She still managed to be nearly an hour late though, which didn’t win her many brownie points with those who were waiting in what was a really unpleasant weather and nearly made me late for my last wedding of the day. Fortunately, that last ceremony was early evening and in the foothills, where the heat of the day was starting to dissipate.
The person I was sorriest for on that day was the piper who played the pipes at the first wedding. He was wearing the full Scottish costumes, including woollen kilt, jacket and beret. Hot as I felt, it was probably nowhere near what he was feeling. I was impressed he still had enough puff to play the pipes.
Once you peel away the marketing hype, what is the significance of the day? Different for everyone, but for those in a committed relationship, it’s a reminder of what brought them together and has kept them there. Does it have to be a major event? Not really. All the red roses in the florist shop won’t cement a relationship that’s starting to crack. A simple reminder of all that is good between you is all that is needed. Of course, it can be an excuse for a wonderful day as well.
For the would-be swain, it’s a day that might make it easier to declare your interest or intentions. A simple red rose can speak volumes.
One lesson I have learnt – don’t try to buy any roses on that day. I needed a single rose when I was doing the photo shoot to launch my first novel The Red Heart and was stunned when a single stem was $10. I needed the rose and there were none in bloom in my garden, so I bought it.
If you have any special Valentine’s Day stories, I would love to hear them.