Is romance dead?

14th February, 2012


Ahhhhhhh romance.

February 14th. Valentines Day. A day to celebrate your loved one and embrace all things to do with romance.

Or is it?

Valentines Day historically dates back hundreds of years and celebrates the lives of numerous Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, who died for their religious beliefs. There were no romantic associations with this day until the 14th Century when poems by Geoffrey Chaucer celebrated the flourish of courtly love between couples. The first noted association between romance, love and Saint Valentines day arose in 1382, when Chaucer wrote "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.". A poem that was written to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. In the same year a number of other poets and scholars also linked Saint Valentines Day with romance and from then on, the day became associated with love and celebrating those most important to you.

By the 15th century Valentines Day was being celebrated on a much larger scale by lovers who would present each other with flowers, confectionery and hand written cards, known as valentines.

In todays society, Valentines Day is one of the most commercialised days of the year with retailers and advertisers investing heavily in the modern connotations associated with romance, love and surprising your special someone. It is difficult to ignore (or forget!) February 14th with every available type of media promoting loving gestures of meals in for 2, half price bouquets of roses, days out at romantic locations and perfect presents for your other half. The question is, does it take away the true meaning of romance and distract us from the more important elements of being in love? Just how romantic is a pre-prepared dinner for 2 with a cheap bottle of pink fizzy and a half wilted rose? But the commercialisation of this day can, and does, blind us from this. Gone are the days when people would spend hours hand-making their own cards and carefully selecting the prettiest flowers to demonstrate to their loved one just how much they appreciate them. Some old romantics still do (and please dont ever stop!) but the majority of us will nip down to the local supermarket and purchase a mass produced card and stand there staring at the huge displays of pink and red products panicking at what we are supposed to buy and wondering when being in love became such a chore!

And what ever happened to the mystery associated with Valentines Day? When I was growing up if I wanted to send a card to someone I was told to keep it secretive and to sign my name as a question mark. With the mass produced cards available today this can be quite tricky. If you receive a card with to my wonderful wife on the front, its pretty obvious who sent it!

Valentines Day may have lost some of its true romance but for some marketers it still provides a warming sense of happiness. In recent years it has been estimated that just under half of the UK population spend money on their valentines, with approximately 25 million cards being sent and over 1.3 billion pounds being spent on flowers, chocolates and other gifts. It provides an opportunity to sell all manner of items to slightly bewildered consumers who are lead to believe that they need to purchase certain items to prove to their other half that they are devoted to them. If they dont, then said other half is likely to be rather upset/annoyed and to be honest, who could blame them. Its not like Valentines Day sneaks up on us without any warning! All you have to do is turn on the TV, walk into the local shop or log onto your computer and you are inundated with adverts, promotions, emails, and hints reminding you to purchase items you really dont need.

Real love should be about the unseen gestures; the little things that are done that make life easier and happier and dont involve spending large amounts of money on wasteful items. So when you?re next in the supermarket and about to purchase a fluffy teddy cuddling a love heart have a think about who really benefits from your purchase. If it isn?t your loved one, then maybe think again. After all, a hand made card or a home made dinner shows much more commitment and consideration. Similar qualities to those displayed by those martyrs who we should really be honouring on this day!

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