The good old Farmers’ Almanac https://www.farmersalmanac.com/the-legends-and-lore-of-valentines-day-726 has done a wonderful job of illustrating the legends and lore associated with Valentine’s Day. The Almanac even includes a quiz for people super in love with this special day for sweethearts.
According to Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions: Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort & Joy (S.B. Breathnach), Valentine cards “…were among the few tokens that could freely be exchanged between men and women, and much was read between the lines, or in this instance, the hearts and flowers.” Breathnach goes on to discuss the way the degree of elaborate decorations on the cards illustrated the depths of a person’s love for the recipient. The more stuff on a card, the more promising the love.
Things have changed since the coy, secretive Victorian days… Now, overt acts illustrating attraction and desire (special underwear, racy text messages, mutual… well, you get it…) are more likely displayed or sent than a card with hidden messaging.
There’s nothing like the blush of new love. The excitement it brings is perfect for this red-hot holiday. Dr. Seuss said “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” That sums up new love perfectly, when as long as a pair is together, nothing else matters. Oh, those days. Can’t you just call up the feeling if you shut your eyes and imagine… Or maybe you’re in the throes of new love now. Oh, those days.
The length of time this exciting stage lasts is different for everyone, but it’s possible for couples to continue to recognize the truth in that statement even as time marches on, sagging our skin, bloating our schedules, and challenging everything that makes early love wonderful. Continuing to see that reality with lover A (or husband 2 and wife 3) is better than some dream, takes a little more consideration after years of being together. Perhaps each person has to play out in his or her mind what it would be like to live without the other. Time together requires many couples to really imagine it, to envision never sharing life’s developments, good and bad, small and large ever again, in order to remind themselves, that though love is different decades later, it’s even richer. Or not…
Let’s face it, many people need the thrill of never-ending newness and discovery. They aren’t alive if their heart isn’t thumping, spurred by thoughts of the next time they’ll see the current, budding love of their life. If that’s you, then perhaps serial monogamy is your ticket. Everyone is different so it’s best to know thyself and tread through love accordingly.
Here’s one take on ripened relationships: Marcel Proust on love:“When you come to live with a woman, you will soon cease to see anything of what made you love; though it is true that the two sundered elements can be reunited by jealousy.” Good old jealousy to the rescue. It does fire things up, doesn’t it?
This is my favorite… Julian Barnes: “Some of the freckles I once loved are now closer to liver spots. But it’s still the eyes we look at, isn’t it? That’s where we found the other person, and find them still.” Oh, the eyes… the way someone looks at his love… so many stories held in just one gaze, in just that way you’ve come to feel known and loved.
And then there’s Katherine Lee Bates: “Old love is gold love, old love, the best.”
No matter which stage you fall into or how you view it, if you’re with someone, wish them a happy Valentine’s Day in just the way that would be meaningful to him or her. Is that a lavishly decorated card, ala secret Victorian messaging? Or maybe it’s the seemingly mundane act of doing the dishes or putting the kids to bed for your wife or husband. Or maybe the two of you require full blown, crazy romance? Any way it works for a couple is the way to go on this long-lived, much loved by some and hated by others, holiday.