FIRST LOVE & ONIONS!
10th February 2021
As promised last week, here’s a couple of love poems that I used to teach to my GCSE English pupils when we were studying old and modern love poetry; one is First Love written by John Clare in 1820 and the other is Valentine written by Carol Ann Duffy in 1993. These two love poems are very different and yet so similar too, one typically romantic and the other not so, yet both seek to convey the intense emotions associated with love. Lovesick Clare was not allowed to pursue his first love, as her father would not allow it; he deemed Clare far too poor for his daughter! (Luckily, my dad didn’t investigate my first love’s finances – I was 16 and the boy in question was Paul, who is now my husband of 16 years!) Duffy’s Valentine gift of an onion is somewhat unusual but makes a striking metaphor for the true nature of love and its enduring power.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the poems. And if you do decide that you would like a little Valentine’s gift for your loved one (FYI we don’t sell onions!) then head over to the Valentine’s section of our website and see if anything takes your fancy. Hubby, if you’re reading this (he isn’t romantic at all) then I like the LOVE Scrabble tealight! x
LOVE & ALL THINGS VALENTINEY!
2nd February 2021
Well, if there was ever a time when we should be showing a little bit of extra love to those around us, then this has to be it! I don’t think any of us thought this time last year that our next Valentine’s Day would be spent in national lockdown, away from loved ones! The past 10 months have seen teeny tiny and extraordinary acts of love from all corners of the globe, and none more so than in our own country. In a year where we have had to come together and lean on others just to get through, there’s millions of people who deserve a little extra TLC and heartfelt thanks this Valentine’s Day.
As I write this, I have just learned about the sad passing of Captain Sir Tom Moore and my heart has just felt a little pang of pain. Of course, I didn’t know Captain Tom, but his fundraising efforts and the way he showed his love to others during our first lockdown last year are an example to all of us, aren’t they? My heart goes out to his daughters and the rest of his family, knowing how it feels to lose a beloved father. If love could have saved our dad, he’d still be here, laughing and joking with his nine grandchildren – being ‘a silly sausage!’ Claire and I miss him beyond words every day. So, yes, we pay a huge price for love when we lose someone we have loved dearly. But we’d never ever want to be without it, would we? Love makes the world go round! And I think this last year has reminded us of exactly that. When you can’t see those you love, you realise how terribly you miss them and that maybe you sometimes take them a little bit for granted.
But we can do something about that! That’s what I like about Valentine’s Day. Not spending loads of money on a fancy gift, but just taking the time to tell someone we love them, as, let’s face it, most of the time life gets in the way and we forget to say those three simple little words. When was the last time you told someone you loved them? Last night? Last week? Last year!!! I hope it wasn’t too long ago. If it was – go and do it now! Yes now – as soon as you’ve finished reading this blog!
So where did all this Valentine malarkey begin? Well, for that we have to go back to the third century and take a look at several Saint Valentines. And let’s look at a few more fascinating facts while we’re at it! Saint Valentine’s feast day, to commemorate martyred saints called Valentine, was added to the Catholic religion’s liturgical calendar around 500 AD by Pope Gelasius. Differing legends celebrate three different saints called Valentine or Valentinus. One legend says that Saint Valentine refused to convert to paganism and was promptly executed. Prior to his death, he was able to miraculously heal the daughter of his jailer, who then converted to Christianity along with his family. Another legend says a bishop called Saint Valentine of Terni is the true namesake of the holiday; this Saint Valentine was also executed! But according to others, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry because Emperor Claudius II decreed married soldiers did not make good warriors. This Saint Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it—a symbol of love—that helped soldiers recognise him and he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God. Because of this legend, St. Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. However, since very little was known about these men and there were conflicting reports of the Saint Valentine Day story, the feast day was removed from the Christian liturgical calendar in 1969. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century. Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used.
King Henry VIII of England declared 14th February a holiday in 1537 – and it has stuck ever since.
Richard Cadbury first gave chocolates to his beloved in a heart-shaped box in 1868.
An estimated £800 million is spent on cards, flowers, chocolates and gifts every year. Globally, over one billion cards are sent for Valentine's Day each year. Only Christmas - when around 2.6 billion cards are sent - beats it. Around 25 million Valentine’s cards are sent in the UK.
Approximately 50 million roses are received on Valentine’s Day around the world.
In the UK, people celebrating Valentine’s Day spend approximately £28.45 each. In the USA it's significantly higher, with the average person spending $221.34 (around £172).
Each year 10% of all marriage proposals happen on the 14th February.
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä, which translates into ‘Friendship day’. It’s all about celebrating your pals rather than your partner.
There is a town called Valentine in Texas with fewer than 200 residents.
St. Valentine is also the Patron Saint of bee keepers, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, plague, travellers and young people. Who knew?
Well, that’s it from me for the minute. Look out for next weeks blog featuring two love poems I’ve chosen especially for Valentine’s week (cue the ex-English teacher!) If you fancy checking out our Valentine’s Day gifts, go to the Valentine's Day collection under the Occasions category.
Thanks for reading!