In recent years, Valentine’s Day has gained the reputation of being a Hallmark holiday that promotes Lindt rather than love. So, before you rush off to the shops to buy a big bunch of flowers or box of chocolates, you may wish to take a moment to reflect on the meaning behind the day and how you can best show your affection. Romance without the rands…
The origins of Valentine’s Day remain somewhat mysterious. Its initial roots are argued to go way back to a fertility festival held on 15 February that was dedicated to a Roman god — the traditions of which were believed to guarantee fertility and ease the pain of childbirth. However, the rise of Christianity resulted in pagan rites being outlawed, and the festival was replaced with another annual highlight that revolved around the story of Saint Valentine.
Valentine was a Roman priest who secretly married young people during a time when it was forbidden, as unmarried soldiers were thought to be better fighters because they didn’t have the fear of leaving a wife behind. He was eventually imprisoned and sentenced to a three-part execution consisting of a beating, stoning and decapitation for his crime of defying the then-Emperor’s edict. However, by remaining resolute in his belief about the sanctity of marriage (in spite of the risks and his eventual punishment), he is regarded by many as a martyr to his Christian cause; and 14th February — the date of his execution — is now celebrated as a day of love. He also allegedly healed the judge’s blind daughter, and he ended a letter he wrote to her with the words “from your Valentine”, which has become a focal part of the modern love missive.
Nowadays, the amorous event is celebrated in a variety of ways across the world. In South Africa, for example, some women pin the name of their sweetheart to their sleeve, and this is how men can discover that they have a secret admirer.
The cost of love
For the average South African, spoiling that special someone on Valentine’s Day can become quite a costly affair, but you can still be romantic without splashing too much cash unnecessarily. The key is to plan in advance and budget accordingly. Also consider more experiential or bespoke gifting options that are personal to your relationship.
Write a list of things that your loved one loves, along with how much each thing costs — be this a night out at the cinema, or a gift of jewellery. Once you have an idea of prices, set a feasible budget and make a plan of action that sticks to this.
You can sweep someone off their feet while keeping yours on the ground. And blowing all your savings on one day isn’t actually very romantic if it means you wind up begging for loans or eating plain pap for the rest of the year. It’s better to be realistic about what you can afford, and prioritise meaningful presents or experiences over sheer decadence. Alternatively, you may wish to consider skipping some luxuries now so that you can save enough to make your other half happy on the big day itself.
You can also spread the love without breaking the bank by making a gift rather than buying one. For example, rather than getting into debt by taking your date for a seven-course tasting menu at a fine dining restaurant, try creating a romantic atmosphere in your home and cooking a delicious dinner that you both can enjoy by candlelight.
Furthermore, if you want to do something particularly special, have a look for any deals that can make an enjoyable day more cost effective. You can still have fun at a low price, and a bit of effort and consideration can be worth far more to someone than simply picking up a large bill.