St. Valentine’s Day
A romantic gesture or media pressure?…………………

As we try to recover from the excesses of the Christmas period, the media do not allow us to rest too long as the build up to St. Valentine’s Day on Tuesday 14 February gathers momentum.

 During February, colourful carnival (Fasnacht) parades take place in parts of Switzerland.  For those with a sweet tooth, many supermarkets sell Fasnachtchüechli.  Details of the parades are on: -

There are many different myths & legends surrounding the origins of St. Valentine’s Day.  The roots are mixed between stories of Roman Gods and Christian beliefs.

In Ancient Rome, 15 February was Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus – the God of fertility.  According to religious legends: Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young soldiers as he decided that single men made better soldiers.  Bishop Valentine kept marrying young couples in defiance of the Emperor and was eventually beheaded in 270 A.D.

Pope Gelasius declared 14 February, St. Valentine’s Day, in approx. 498 A.D.
According to the Catholic encyclopaedia (1908), at least three different Saint Valentines are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date 14 February.  In the 19th century, relics of St. Valentine were donated by Pope Gregory XVI to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.  In 1969, the Catholic Church removed St. Valentine’s Day as an official holiday from it’s calendar.

In the 14th century (in Europe) it was the traditional day on which birds paired off to mate.  Spring is the traditional time of year when young couples fall in love.  Such sayings as,
“……….you have a spring in your step,” and “love is in the air….” are quite common.  The weather forecast for northern (and on high ground) areas of Switzerland, for the beginning of February 2006, may be more conducive to a winter wonderland rather than springtime.  The daytime temperatures in and around Locarno (Lugano) may be more pleasant.

The 14 February is also the anniversary of the notorious St. Valentine’s Day massacre.  In 1929, a gang led by Al Capone killed several members of the Bugs Moran’s gang at 2122 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.  Crime connected to gangs is not a new phenomenon.

How did these myths and legends turn St. Valentine’s Day into the consumer circus it is in 2006?

It is the traditional day on which lovers, in certain cultures, let each other know about their love.  Not all countries recognise St. Valentine’s Day on 14 February e.g.
In Brazil, there is no such day as St. Valentine’s Day.  Instead on 12 June there is, “Dia Dos Namorados” (Boyfriend/Girlfriend’s Day) on which gifts are exchanged.

In China, there is the Night of Sevens, which is sometimes called the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
This is celebrated on the 7th day of lunar month seven of the Chinese calendar.

The greeting card association estimates that, worldwide, approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent each year.  It is only second to the volume of cards sent for Christmas.  Allegedly, 85%(approx) are purchased by women.  Are women motivated by genetics, peer, or media pressure?

Miss Esther Howland, from the U.S.A., is given credit for sending the first Valentine cards in approx 1840.

The oldest written valentine poem in existence is held in the British Library and was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans (Duc d’Orléans) to his wife, whilst captured in Tower of London, England, U.K.  An image of the Duc d’Orléans in the Tower of London can be seen on the following website link: -

The tale of two people in search of love has been told in many different ways throughout history.  From William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the new film Brokeback Mountain that is due for release in Switzerland on 16 February.
Both stories tell of people finding true love against all odds.  Brokeback Mountain has provoked many heated conversations in the U.S.A.  A rational, balanced debate is healthy and it needs to be acknowledged that some people do find true love in same sex relationships.

For all of us who wish to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day what choices do we have in 2006 and what influences us?

The media must be one of the powerful influences in our lives, no matter what age we are.  There is also the pressure within families and amongst our peers that we simply must have a partner or there must be something wrong with us?
With children, more is caught than taught.  Therefore, the images and examples set by parents may potentially stay with them for a long time.  There are the negative press stories of young women searching for a “Sugar Daddy” and insecure men searching for a “Trophy Wife” to help boost their ego.

There are reports that the alternative name for St. Valentine’s Day is Singles Awareness Day.  One cheeky contributor to the “Single and Loving It” web-page on the BBC Radio 1 website said that she would be going to the gym (on Valentine’s Day) and checking out who’s there – if they are in the gym after 7 p.m., they obviously do not have a partner and she can make her move.  I am not sure this theory is foolproof.  People may have partners who are working an evening shift or working abroad.

One financial analyst described how one fashion clothes store was successful at attracting new customers, typically young women, because it simply followed or manipulated the idea that: -
 Fashionable Clothes = Sex  and  Sex = Happiness 

No matter how cynical it sounds, Sex sells.  Look at the music videos that appear on MTV (for example) and think how young and impressionable the audience are who watch these videos.

As we get older our views may change and choices may expand due to a potential to earn a higher income.  No matter what age, humans loved to be loved and there are many ways we can make a romantic gesture this St. Valentine’s Day.

The einkaufszentrum Letzipark ( has a display of gifts to choose from on the lower ground floor and a nicely decorated area where you can sit and have a hot drink whilst pondering over what to write in that Valentine’s card. 

I did notice that many of the small fun gifts were labelled: Made in China.  Do we need to be concerned about the volume of goods being imported into the European market from Asia?  Should we explore the possibility of buying more locally, for the sake of the environment (increased air transport) and job creation within Europe?

It is a very busy time for florists.  The red rose was the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love.

The COOP florist offers a good selection and provides the option to purchase roses with the Max Havelaar Label (Fair Trade certified).  More details can be found on: -

Flowers can be ordered via the following websites: -

Chocolates are another traditional gift and I am sure Lindt & Sprüngli will not disappoint in the selection available and the quality.  Who could resist the Lindor Cristall-Herz?  More details on: -

Mind you, I have heard that some British ex-pats still prefer Cadburys chocolate, which might be slightly controversial 

If anyone is feeling extravagant, a Tokyo jeweller has a solution.  The jeweller put diamonds and chocolate together in what could be the world’s most valuable Valentine’s chocolate.  There are over 2,000 diamonds sprinkled into some of the finest chocolate in the shape of the African continent.  The cost is approx. $5 million.  The diamonds are not edible.

If anyone would like to go to the cinema, the romantic comedy, Casanova is due to be released in Switzerland on 9 February.  The Pathé Cinema, Dietlikon is having a
Ciné Deluxe Valentinstag: a Candle Light Dinner from 18:45 after which the film Casanova will be shown at 20:30.  Details can be found on:

Maybe taking your loved one for a romantic meal with a surprise overnight stay will be just the treat your partner deserves.  The Hotel Uto Kulm, at the top of Zürich i.e. at top of the Uetliberg, has a special Valentine’s Dinner and why not spoil yourself to stay overnight?  Details on:

The Seedamm-Plaza (, near Pfäffikon SZ train station is offering a special Valentine’s Menu and an overnight package.

A trip to one of the romantic cities or places in the world: a dream or realistic choice? 

Two of the most famous romantic cities are Paris and Rome.  Swiss International Air Lines are offering special deals e.g. your partner flies for only CHF1 (please do not forget that airport taxes etc have to be added)
The marketing promotion is called, Wings of Love.

One of the most romantic buildings in the world is the Taj Mahal, in Agra, India.  It was built by Shah Jehan for his wife and is sometimes described as a monument of love.

What romantic gestures will be carried out on Valentine’s Day?
Will your partner propose?

Although, not actually on Valentine’s Day, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales made the official announcements of his two engagements in February.  The first, on 24 February 1981, to the then Lady Diana Spencer and the second, on 10 February 2005, to the then Mrs Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Many people make the romantic gesture of travelling across the world to be with their partner on St. Valentine’s Day.  Love is a strong motivational source.

Or will you play Cupid or Matchmaker for friends?
Cupid, the child like winged deity, is the son of Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love.  In Greek mythology, Cupid is known as Aphrodite’s son Eros.  A statue of Eros can be seen above the busy Piccadilly Circus in the west end of London, England, U.K.

The City of Loveland in Colorado, U.S.A. offers a re-mailing programme.  Thousands of Valentines worldwide are mailed to the Sweetheart City and re-mailed with a special verse and postmark, hand-stamped by volunteers.

Or, you may wish to stay at home for the evening, have an intimate meal, and listen to romantic music.  There is a vast selection to choose from e.g.
Whitney Houston:  I will always Love you
Celine Dion          : My heart will go on
Bryan Adams       : Everything I do, I do it for you
Bing Crosby
and Grace Kelly    : True Love
Nat King Coe       :  When I fall in Love
Elvis Presley        :  Love me Tender

Whatever you decide to do on St. Valentine’s Day, I hope you have an enjoyable day.  Although we live in an ever-growing consumer and media driven society, true romantic gestures and true Love still exists.  Money cannot buy true Love.

The famous line from the sentimental film, Love Story (1970) is,
“Love means never having to say you are sorry.”

True Love may require forgiveness, understanding, compromise, and a lot of effort.  These may not be very marketable qualities?

My thoughts are with those who may have to face this Valentine’s Day alone and for their loved ones who are no longer with us.  They will not be forgotten and will not be far from the hearts of those who miss them.

One of the most priceless gifts that can be given to a loved one is time. 

© Theresa Avery : February 2006

posted: 09.02.06


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