Well folks, the time is here, my favourite holiday. The day of love, romance and chocolate. I have always been a fan of Valentines, even in my years of being single. That is because I have always known that it isn’t just for the couples of the world. After all, is love exclusively romantic? No, you can love your family, friends, home, planet and most importantly, yourself.
I think we really need to practise this kind thinking in 2021. We all need to celebrate and appreciate one of those kinds of love right now, if not all of them. So I am going to talk you through how I view and spend Valentines Day. Hopefully some of my love for the holiday can rub off on you.
Preparing for Valentines Day – Gifts, flowers and cards
If you’re going to be taking part in any gift giving, it is important to try and plan this in advance. That way, you can give it appropriate thought and care. Last minute gifts often mean buying things that a person may not necessarily need, or even want, just to appease gift pressure.
Buying in advance also gives you the option of supporting smaller businesses who may not be able to guarantee quick or next day delivery.
Gifting sustainably can be achieved in four ways- supporting a small business, gifting an experience, something handmade and gifting something they would buy themselves and need (but a pretty version that they wouldn’t or couldn’t buy themselves). If you combine all four, you are the ultimate gifting champion.
Harry’s Christmas present for me is a good example of the last one. My goal for 2021 is to run 5k and I have always been held back from running because my cheap trainers offer zero ankle support. He bought me a really good quality pair of pink running trainers. Now I have no excuse.. although knowing me I’ll find one.
Probably the most important component out of the three.
Flowers are always lovely. I think anyone would be excited to receive a bouquet of flowers any day, especially this one. A way to make them even more special is to order them through an independent florist. That way, you know there was so much more thought put into the arrangement. I mean just look at the photos below for proof of that..
Seen as most of you are reading from Oxford, I thought I would leave a link to my favourite Oxford Based florist- Nong Smitinand Flowers. When we need bouquets for hotel guests at work, Nong is our go to. She uses seasonal flowers to create thoughtful, elegant and colourful arrangements.
Just for reference, we are a five star hotel. So if it’s good enough to wow our guests, it’ll be good enough to wow your partner.
Nong is offering Valentines deliveries this year. You can order the seasonal bouquet in Shades of Red or alternatively, if you have something more specific in mind, contact her with your request. (If anyone reading would like to send me 100 red roses, I will not refuse). Valentines deliveries are on a pre-ordered basis and with limited slots, so be sure to get yours ordered quick.
This year, so many people, even those in relationships, will be forced to spend this day alone. Flowers deliveries are such a lovely touch when you aren’t able to celebrate these occasions in person.
Head to Nong’s website to find out more, here are some photos of the arrangements she has made in the past. https://www.nongsmitinandflowers.com/buy-flowers/valentines
An alternative to flowers would be a house plant – that is if you are buying for some one who can keep them alive. I have not earned that badge yet sadly.
If you’re feeling really extravagant, why not plant a tree together? Tree planting season runs until March through most of the UK and Woodland Trust is a great resource to use. Make sure to plant a native tree to enhance biodiversity.
I recommend scrolling through Etsy to find a nice handmade card or making your own. To be honest with you, even though I enjoy art, whenever I attempt to make my own cards.. I end up hating life. I think that’s because I am massive perfectionist though. I am sure you will fair better than I.
Valentines Day is for all kinds of love
The love that valentines day is famous for. If you are lucky enough to be living with your loved one this year, not locked down in separate house holds. Appreciate the day.
Valentines Cards are not just for couples. Make one for your mum, dad, sister, brother, grandma, granddad or anyone you love.
Share the love by messaging and reaching out to your loved ones the same way you would on Christmas. If you live with your family this is the perfect night to make an occasion out of. Cook a meal altogether, plan a new film to watch, make some popcorn.
A good game to play with larger families is where you each have a piece of paper and the rest of the family have to write something nice about you on your paper. Sort of like a communal valentine card.
Be sure to reach out to all your friends. Let them know you love them, just in case they have forgotten. This photo is a major throwback to the days when we could hug, go to the pub and share chips.
Tidy up and spring clean the house on the days leading up to Valentines so you can spend the day relaxing at home in all its beauty.
Buy yourself a candle, fill your home with your favourite aroma on the evening. Note down the spots in your house that bring in the light at each time and rotate between them throughout the day.
In the mornings I like to be in my room because that’s where the sun comes in. From the afternoon I enjoy sitting at the top of our stairs to catch the golden hour.
Get out in nature. Leave your phone at home and immerse yourself in green and blue spaces. Wake up for sunrise or go on a sunset stroll. Don’t be ashamed if you feel the need to hug a few trees whilst you’re out.
Some of my favourite valentines have been when I was single. It was when I was 16 that I decided I wasn’t going to wait for a partner to make me feel special on that day, that I could do so myself. I was staying at my Dad’s house that year. The rest of the family went out to a concert in the village but I decided to stay in for some ‘me time’.
I started by going to Subway to get myself a foot long (yes I know, not sustainable but this was 6 years ago and also, I’m not perfect). I then bought two huge chocolate bars to go with. I brought it back to the house made a log fire and sat in front feeling like a queen.
The important thing to remember when spending this day alone is that any ‘Valentines’ tradition is not owned by those in relationships. Buy yourself that fancy box of chocolates, that love heart necklace and some sexy lingerie.
Make yourself a Valentines Day card by writing a list of all the things you love about you and put that on your mantel piece. Spend the day treating yourself like the Queen/King you are.
I’m in a relationship but that still won’t stop me from buying myself fancy chocolates. Life is too short not to eat pink truffles.
All kinds of love
Don’t even let me constrict your celebrations by this list. You could celebrate a love for- food, football, film, art, music, writing, gin, dance. Have a think about what you love most in your life and how you would celebrate it on the 14th.
Valentines Day – Past, Present & Future
Valentines Day has it’s roots in the pagan festival Lupercalia. A festival that was designed to celebrate fertility, it was actually quite a gruesome affair, too disturbing to share on this blog. Never the less, it was a very popular festival but with the rise of Christianity it was eventually forbidden and appropriated. This was when it developed into the holiday that we know now, the one where we celebrate St Valentine.
St Valentine was killed and martyred by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Claudius has realised that men attachments to the families and wives prevented them from signing up to the military. In an attempt to solve this shortage of soldiers, he put a ban on all marriages in Rome. St Valentine rebelled against this by continuing to perform marriages in secret. Once found out, he was imprisoned and beheaded. This sentence was carried out February 14th.
In my nonintellectual opinion, I think it can all be simplified down a lot. Pagans recognised Spring was the time of new birth in nature. This is why they started the fertility ritual in February, which was recognised as the start of Spring.
Even after the festival stopped, people still wanted to make babies and so declared February as the month to get naked. Thus creating a commercial opportunity in Valentines Day.
Of course, as you can tell, I am no historian.
Today, Valentines is an occasion to spend with your romantic love. It’s a day to put aside other priorities and make time for a date night, a romantic weekend away or, in 2021, a romantic walk in the local park.. It’s a day to eat chocolates that you normally would never splash the cash on. A day to remind those close to you that you love them.
Side note: One of the reasons why some people are against celebrating the day is because of the commercialisation. However every single holiday is equally commercialised – Christmas, Halloween, Easter, so if you plan to use that as your excuse. You need to write off all those other celebrations too, or you could just be fun and celebrate them all.
I think one important thing for us to recognise is that Valentines, right now, is still not fully inclusive. LGBTQ+ couples are still facing harassment and violence. This means they may not feel safe enjoying the same things that heterosexual couples can, holding hands in public for example.
I have only ever been in het relationships so I have no experiences to draw on in this area. However I would recommend reading ‘Women don’t owe you pretty’ by Florence Given. She touches briefly on her experiences of queer dating. It would make a good starting point for more reading, to help you understand the ways in which it’s a different experience.
This Valentines Day, why don’t you make a donation to a local charity that supports the LQBTQ+ community. If you are in a het relationship, why don’t you pool the amount of money that you would usually spend on a nice meal out on the 14th and donate it to one of these charities. This day is never going to be the day of love until all love can be celebrated.
Thank you for reading!
So, I know I am not posting as much as I used to. I think posting once a week got a bit too much with everything else I had going on. Especially considering the slim amount of travel opportunities there has been.
However I plan to try and write once a month and you will also hear from me in my seasonal newsletter! I am so excited about the Spring issue of the magazine so make sure you subscribe!
There is going to be a different name for it and a bit of re-branding coming up. I have also got a digital art project in the making so make sure you follow me on Instagram because I will be releasing details for that over there!