From Chaucer to Shakespeare to modern researchers, Steven Lake explores the romantic gesture and Valentine’s Day. Forget it at your peril!
How important is romancing your partner on Valentine’s Day? The short answer – very. The long answer – very.
Here we are approaching the day especially set aside to show appreciation for that special person in our lives — Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is not a figment of some marketing agency, though greeting card companies have taken advantage of its popularity since the late 1700s.
St. Valentine (there are at least three of them) has been acknowledged in the Christian church for almost 1500 years and with a special celebration since the middle ages. The first poetic entanglement of St. Valentine and romantic love occurs with Chaucer in 1382.
And Valentine cards have been around for ages. The earliest surviving card is from Charles Duke of Orleans written while in the Tower of London (approx. 1415). Even Shakespeare got into the act mentioning Valentine’s Day in Hamlet:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
Today, the Valentine’s Day business is worth billions of dollars worldwide and the average spend in the US on cards, chocolates, and other sundries in 2013 was $131. That does not include the cost of dinner for adults taking out their loved one.
In Great Briton, a recent survey identified the Top Five Valentine’s Day Turn-ons:
Breakfast in bed 85%
Flowers waiting at home 82%
Chocolates waiting at home 82%
Weekend away 77%
Valentine’s Day card 66%
Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is a day when men show their appreciation for the love interest in their lives. Like everything else, this too has changed. While men still see this day as a romantic gesture, women are seeing it more as a family event, often buying gifts for friends, family, children, and pets.
According to Horizon Media, men are more likely than women to buy sweets (46% vs. 34%), dinner at a restaurant (40% vs. 24%) flowers (41% vs. 6%) lingerie (11% vs. 6%) and jewelry (10% vs. 3%).
This shift away from traditional views of the holiday as a time to court women to an increase in expectations that women take care of others has become, according to research from the University of Texas at Austin, about women feeling “that they aren’t doing enough, even though Valentine’s Day is traditionally viewed a woman’s holiday” (Angeline Close).
I don’t know about you, but I think this sucks. It is like, at least to some degree, that Valentine’s Day is being co-opted to become Loved One’s Day. I’m not against showing appreciation for those we care about, but at what expense.
I am digressing from the original question, how important is it to romance your partner on Valentine’s Day? Yes, society thinks it is very important, but do you?
Most men I know are not particularly romantic. Some are and I doff my hat to them. Smart men know that romance is important to their partners and act accordingly.
I am not particularly romantic, I admit it. I do like loving gestures throughout the year and think Valentine’s Day is good as it reminds me to make a special effort to demonstrate my love and appreciation for my wife.
The easiest way to find out how important the day is for your partner is to ask. If he or she thinks it is important, listen, and act appropriately.
Even if you don’t put a lot of value on romantic gestures, or on Valentine’s Day in particular, be smart and do or give your partner something that makes her feel appreciated and loved.
If you are one of those unromantic types, she knows how you feel about this topic and will love you the more for valuing her needs in spite of how you feel about it.
It shows that you care about her. And that shouldn’t be a hard thing to do. If it is, you might want to examine your relationship.
If you are having a difficult time coming up with romantic gestures check out Ken Tanner’s The Science of Passion, The Art of Romance. It is a wonderful aggregation of ten romantic scenarios for those of us that are clueless in this regard.
I wish you all the best this Valentine’s Day.
Feel free to share:
- your best Valentine’s Day experience or
- what you are doing this Valentine’s Day or
- what you would love your partner to do for you on Valentine’s Day.
If there are enough stories I will create a special article featuring them.
Also by Steven Lake
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