So, what is Saint Valentine's Day all about?
There are lots of different stories, but one common thread indicates that it started with the Romans practicing a pagan celebration commemorating young men’s rite of passage to the God Lupercus in mid-February. The young men would draw names of young girls from a box and they would remain companions for a year, which often culminated in marriage.
Mind you, the Church weren't over fond of pagan festivals and ordered a change in the celebrations, substituting the names of the young girls to those of Saints, the object then being to emulate the ways of the Saint for the remainder of the year. Lupercus was consequently replaced by the patron saint Bishop Valentine.
So why Valentine?
Around 265AD, Claudius II banned marriage to preserve the number of single men to be soldiers, as married men were proving to be reluctant to leave their wives and families. However, Bishop Valentine continued to perform wedding ceremonies in secret in defiance of Claudius. Inevitably he was found out and sentenced to be executed. Whilst awaiting his fate, the story goes that he was befriended by a jailers' daughter, and on the 14th February 269AD, just hours before he faced death he wrote her a farewell note... signed 'From Your Valentine.'
That's a long way back for a tradition to go, and so it has evolved and developed, and of course become hugely commercial. Only Christmas sees more cards being sent worldwide, and over 50% of these are believed to be sent anonymously.
And these days it sometimes seems more about flowers, diamonds, teddy bears and fancy meals than being in love, with the commercial big boys determined to get us to part with our pennies. Perhaps it's just me but a 'personalised' Valentines card (free if you buy flowers!) via an internet website - could anything be more unromantic or less personal?! And the TV advert encouraging 'him' to treat 'her' to a 'lovingly prepared meal deal... for only £10.' Erm, not if you want to see your next birthday darling!
How about being a little inventive for your Valentine's Gifts this year?
What woman, or indeed man, doesn't love a bit of pampering? The perfect opportunity to enjoy being beautified, massaged and just relaxing. All this is on offer through the beauty salons on thebestof Croydon - The Retreat, Charlotte of London or Breeze. Check their listings on our Business Services pages and you will find they all have something different, and a little bit special, to offer.
If it HAS to be sweet, or it has to be chocolate, make it special and personal. Check out the delights available from Let it be Cake, including the most beautiful individual cupcakes or specially designed Valentine’s cakes. Alternatively, for the ultimate chocolate experience, try the truly indulgent offerings from award-winning chocolatier Paul Wayne Gregory.
What about a gift voucher for a family portrait, or an extra special Photo Shoot Party that you can tailor make, adding extras from makeovers to massages, or even limo travel for your big night out? Croydon photographers, Hoteye Designs Ltd` can provide all this and more, and if you book before 29th February there's a FREE canvas on offer.
Kate Bellinger Photography offers both studio and location photography – for example, what about your own OK style shoot at home or a set of shots in the place where you proposed, or shared your first kiss (perhaps not if it was behind the bike sheds!)
And of course there are some of the best bars and restaurants in Croydon all listed on our Business Pages, with every possible cuisine you could wish for, so if you want to keep it simple and traditional and 'feed' the flames of love, you can be sure of a romantic dining experience.
Whatever you decide, be it small and intimate or a grand gesture, share the love with each other - and don't forget to share the love for your favourite Croydon businesses in our 14 Days of Love campaign.