It’s funny how a holiday that started around 270 A.D with a poor wee saint being decapitated can make so many people lose their head (albeit figuratively) in 2022.
Although the precise identity of ole Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery, the general story goes that Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage to encourage more men to join the army and compel them to focus on the task at hand rather than the Mrs at home. Unsurprisingly being a bit of a romantic himself, Saint Valentine of Terni said, ‘Naw, I’m not having that’ and continued to marry young lovers in secret which resulted in his bonce being chopped off on February 14th but not before he could send a wee farewell note to his own sweetheart signed, ‘From your Valentine’.
While this poetic retelling of the Saint V. legend might be paraphrasing slightly, the general concept of risking it all in the name of love has endured for two Millenia.
But in the years that followed, once the Emperors, Kings, Queens and everyone else across the land cottoned on to this annual day of love, did they too experience pangs of anxiety if they found themselves single in February?
We’ve had ‘Dry January’ and as we plough through the second month of the year, perhaps we can endeavour to enjoy a ‘Free February’. Feel free to celebrate Valentine’s Day in any way you choose. Feel free to dedicate the whole month to love if you like. Feel free to celebrate the love in your life that isn’t romantic. Feel free to spend time completely focused on yourself. Feel free to be completely content not being in a relationship without judgement or pity.
Whomever you choose to spend Valentine’s Day with – or quite possibly the weekend before or after because it’s annoyingly on a Monday this year – here are some ways you might celebrate the occasion that would make Saint Valentine himself swoon.
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have in your life, be sure to nurture it and invest real time in what makes you happy. For your own Valentine’s adventure think about starting the day in a way that will make you feel positive: get up early for a gym session, sleep in, cook a delicious breakfast or practice a spot of yoga in your pants – it’s entirely up to you. Think about wearing a particular outfit or at least one item of clothing you love and then it’s time to make your way to your destination of choice…
I have always had an affinity with the sea and have spent countless days on beaches up and down the length of Scotland by myself simply walking or reading but mostly gazing at and listening to the waves. Consider the places you’ve been where you feel a similar sense of peace or a new place you’ve always wanted to visit and take yourself there (it might be a beach for you too) and if it’s outdoors, pack a lunch made up of your favourite tasty treats and a book, journal, headphones for music/podcasts or possibly all the aforementioned bits and bobs. The weather plays a pivotal role in this adventure and because February in the UK isn’t known for being the warmest or driest of months, aim to park somewhere you can still enjoy the views of your chosen special place while remaining cosy and safe.
The official day for celebrating the ‘platonic soul mates in your life’ thanks to a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation. February 13th has become the day for getting together with friends to let them know how appreciated the in-jokes, constant communication through memes and shared history of truly mortifying tales from days gone by truly are. You’ll even find greetings cards dedicated to the non-romantic Valentine/s in your life and it’s the perfect excuse for a get together with friends who are single or otherwise.
While you might not be able to assemble everyone together on the 13th itself, consider the whole of February when cooking up your Galentine’s or Palentine’s plans. One of the best ways of creating lasting memories with friends is by taking on a challenge together. Begin your day of friendship appreciation by setting out together on the open road and heading for the hills to bag a Munro or discover a beautiful spot for wild swimming then enjoy lunch by a campfire. There are several outdoor adventure companies across the country who offer instructor led high ropes courses, zip lining, canoeing and kayaking. With your friends by your side you’ll be amazed at what you can conquer.
The standard formula of wining and dining certainly has its merits: mood lighting, a chance to dress up and no post-meal clean up. However, around Valentine’s Day there is also a high chance of crowded restaurants, an overabundance of heart shaped paraphernalia and the potential fire risk from all those bloody candles. Not to mention the risk you run of bumping into an old bumble or tinder date (which would happen if you’re me).
Beat the crowds and head to one of the country’s many beauty spots and choose to ‘park and picnic’. Go beyond a supermarket meal deal with this one and put time and effort into making an epicurean feast your loved one will be both impressed and satisfied by. Either borrow or buy a classic style picnic basket and be sure to include a bottle (complete with champagne flutes) of non-alcoholic bubbly you can both enjoy. Include the all-important picnic blanket and flasks of hot chocolate with optional marshmallows and relish the intimacy of being alone in a place that’s all your own.
If the heavens do open and you end up feeling less sexy more soggy, jump in the car and chalk it up to a romantic but comical story you’ll tell the grandkids one day (or now).
So where will your Valentines’ adventure take you?
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