Posted by Salthouse / January 18th 2019
Valentine’s Day: to be or not to be?
… So that feast day of love and affection is looming again on the horizon.
For many of us Valentine’s Day is one to be got through, with as little or no acknowledgement as possible. We may be recovering from a break up after 14 years, we may suffer from an unrequited love, we may have not quite found ‘the one’ as yet and doubt they exist, we may just simply not have the time or space to countenance such things. Yet for others, it is an excuse to spend money we don’t have on gaudy cards (packaged in more of that dreaded plastic stuff) which clutter our home for a day or two before being relegated to one of our millions of bins – not that we are cynical or anything. We have hope that there is a mid-way: those of us who appreciate the idea, would like to give someone a treat, but
can not quite bear to sign up for the whole shiny shebang.
It is a shame that much of what goes on in the name of Valentine’s Day is so commercialised, devoid of any real meaning and vastly over-priced. So, because Salthouse and Peppermongers have some pretty brilliant present ideas for Valentine’s Day, we have spent a fair bit of time working out if Valentine’s Day is actually something we want to sign up for.
The short answer is yes, it can be truly meaningful, enjoyable and worthwhile and
it would be a sad thing if Valentine's Day were lost for ever more in a plastic sea of tac and dross.
To educate ourselves we read up on the where’s, what’s and why’s of Valentine’s Day - was it pretty much invented for card factories and florists, or is there real sentiment and depth of meaning behind it? Here is what we found out:
In the main, it seems that there was indeed at least one saint who was martyred on 14th February in Rome. It so happened that this date pretty much
coincided with a raucous Roman celebration of fertility,
Lupercalia, about which we can say little here without shock and horror, but it did involve men and women picking names out of a jar to be partnered for the duration of the festival. It may be that it was convenient for the church to try and sanitise this party into a more ‘Christian’ version, but the rumours surrounding St Valentine’s life also contribute to the notion of the modern Valentine’s Day.
It is claimed that the saint married young couples in secret against the Roman Emperor’s wishes. Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers and marriage was a considerable inconvenience. St Valentine was put in jail, where, some say, before he was beheaded, he healed his jailor’s daughter of blindness, leaving her a note signed, ‘your Valentine’. Many believe that he was in love with her.
Later, Saint Valentine and his Feast Day was plummeted into the world of romance, first by Chaucer, then by Shakespeare and handmade cards and small gifts started to be exchanged on 14th February in the Middle Ages.
What no one disputes, though, is that Valentine’s Day has become a Feast Day celebrating love and affection. There is nothing wrong with that in itself:
we clearly admire much in the world of love,
otherwise why would the stories of Anthony and Cleopatra or Queen Victoria and Prince Albert have such apeal and longevity? Why would we make films or write about fictional love stores so prolifically – Robin Hood, Casablanca, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliette, Gone with the Wind, Dr Zhivago, The English Patient?
Let Alone all the Rom Coms out there…
Some of the most enduring and famous words ever written in the history of literacy concern love:
In c600BC, Sappho wrote:
‘Without warning, as a whirlwind swoops on an oak, Love shakes my heart’
In 50BC, Virgil wrote: 'Love conquers all things, let us too surrender to love.'
In the 1500s, Shakespeare wrote: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate’;
In the 1700s, Robert Burns wrote: 'O, my luve is like a red, red rose, That's newly sprung in June. O my luve is like the melodie, That's sweetly played in tune...'
In the 1800s, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach. . .’
The endurance and power of these wonderful words is that they are as applicable to the feelings that love inspires today as they were then. So, if we stick to depth and truth, why can we not bring back some decency to Valentine’s Day?
So, onto the crux of the matter, now that
Salthouse and Peppermongers have decided that Valentine’s Day
really does matter and that behind all the bling and packaging, there is a wonderful amount of hope, joy, appreciation and sensitivity involved, what are we going to do about it?
Someone once said that
Cooking is love made visible.
It is true, food is symbolic of words when words are inadequate. So, if you don’t know what to say or do, that’s it, make a meal.
Let’s face it, you need to eat anyway, so preparing a really thoughtful meal is an undeniably fab way to symbolise your feelings. After all, ‘one cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well’ (thanks Virginia Wolfe).
So go forth and think of something utterly special -A perfect foodie gift to present to your #1.
Or, as it is pretty tricky and you can’t find what you are looking for and you want to go that extra mile, we have just the thing:
A natural, pink heart shaped Salt block straight from the wilds of the Himalayas!!
It is enduring, romantic, attractive, thoughtful and useful, appropriate for a vegan or carnivore, man or woman. It doesn’t come bedecked in plastic, but in an impressive custom-made wooden box, complete with a block cooking booklet.
Ridiculously perfect for cooking a butterflied sirloin steak to share on (we had so much fun preparing this shoot and enjoying the by-product) but also brilliant for asparagus, tomatoes, salmon… and, please believe us, it is quick and easy, even for the most nervous.
Plus, because it is Valentine’s Day and we are converts, we will throw in a gorgeous gourmet chocolate bar of your choice – we have dark, we have milk, we have white, combined with a choice of exotic salts or peppers from across the globe…
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt (Charles Schluz)
Good luck, be thoughtful, enjoy, appreciate and help restore faith in what should be a rather special celebration.
PS. Pressies aside, if you need a bit of help with some poetry recommendations, we have some suggestions – told you, we are Valentines’ converts!