This Tuesday, as lovers and loners everywhere will know, is that most romantic of days- Valentine’s Day. But spare a thought for St Valentine, whoever he was, who died some 1750 years ago today so that we could all be free to love another.
One legend suggests that St Valentine was a Roman who was jailed, tortured and killed because he attempted to help early Christians escape from the prisons where they were locked and beaten until they gave up their religion or died. While in prison he is said to have befriended the jailer’s daughter and before he was executed, on the 14th of February, wrote her a farewell note, signing it “From your Valentine”.
But the Catholic Church recognises at least three St Valentines and Catholics have celebrated Valentines Day on the 14th of February for 1500 years. The day coincided with the eve of the ancient Lupercalia festival, a celebration of the flesh that involved a lot of flagellation and kinky sex and which the Catholic Church was keen to replace with something altogether more wholesome.
Nearly two millennia later, more cards are exchanged on Valentine’s Day in most countries around the world than on any other holiday except Christmas.
Most of these cards are bought by women. This is not because we men are not romantic, but because, I think, men and women give each other the gifts that they themselves would like to receive. This is why girls have given me things like candles that are about as bright as a dead firefly and smell like a packet of bubble gum. Very nice, I suppose, but why can’t they just give me an Xbox?
To all men- this is why your wife or girlfriend gets you a card, so take it as a hint for next year. And women- this why your husband or boyfriend may buy you a 24-piece toolset so don’t scold him. He means well. Also, he hopes he can borrow it every now and then.
As a man I must also apologise, for the slew of inappropriate gifts we guys have given women since time began, like the sexy underwear and cookery books. These gifts don’t mean that we don’t love you for who you are, though I suppose we men should stick to jewellery, chocolates or flowers.
Of course, women are the same. Women buy us clothes and ties and other things they would like us to wear because, I believe, women think all men are slobs. And they are right. If it weren’t for women, most men would have one suit, one tie, a pair of jeans and fifteen T-shirts. We would wear trainers at dinner parties and walk around the house in our underwear, only slipping on a pair of jeans and flip-flops to drive down to the shops to buy beer, which would be one of the few things we would keep in our fridge.
But girls, the truth is that, though we guys will never understand you, we do all these silly things because we love you. We wish you just would tell us what’s on your mind and we hope it won’t be too different from what’s constantly on ours. And we pray that we will never be asked those dreaded questions that you ask us. Questions like:
Men do not know how to answer these questions. We do not want to answer these questions; we would rather have our front teeth pulled out.
But if I can make one promise, it is this: we men will endeavour to remember your anniversaries, birthdays and Valentines. But if we buy you a 24-piece toolset several days after you sulk because we forgot your birthday, we hope you’ll find it in your heart to forgive us within the same decade. So Happy Valentine’s in advance- we love you all. Send your love letters, sweet nothings and promises of Xboxes to the usual address.
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