The wheel of the year brings us round to another festive period that drives me a bit nuts. Once again the great God of commerce is thoroughly worshipped in a festival that does a lot to inspire feelings of guilt, inadequacy and misery. It’s a time when anyone who is unwillingly single gets their unhappiness emphasised for them in every shop window. Today, it is your job to be happily in love with someone and demonstrating this by spending a lot of cash. Gah. He’s not my bloody saint.
Some years, the too-big bouquet of flowers is a reminder of how little romance there is the rest of the year. Sometimes the perfume smells of guilt. Sometimes the romantic meal for two, surrounded by other people desperately trying to do a romantic meal, just flags up that you don’t know what to say to each other anymore. Worse still of course is finding that no one has bothered. No cards from secret admirers, no flowers, no gestures at all. Bad enough when you’re alone, downright humiliating if you’re supposed to be in a relationship.
One day a year for romantic gestures does not a relationship make. When the relationship itself is thin, sad, and troubled, the failure to honour dates, birthdays, anniversaries and this one, just makes things worse. However, in a good relationship, the idea of this being a particularly special occasion seems a bit… mad. If the romantic gestures are there all the time, if you sit down and talk over a meal more nights than not, if you buy each other little gifts just because… what does St Valentine have to offer? Not much. An excuse, we decided, to go to Thorntons together and pick out some chocolates to share. No secrecy and no surprises, and to be honest that joint chocolate quest was one of the sweetest things I’ve shared around this irritating day. Almost made me feel positive about it.
Somewhere round here is the Roman festival of Lupercalia, involving the donning of skins, something to do with goats, and a bit of mayhem. I’m sketchy on the details because I’ve never celebrated it, but it sounds a lot less saccharine and a lot more fun. Also somewhere round here is some near-forgotten Italian festival where you give the object of your desire, a book! That’s for the win, we could do that, I’m not fussy about the date. Any day is an excellent day to bestow a book upon the one you love most. Then of course there’s Beltain, and that’s a whole other bag full of weasels…