Valentine’s Day comes around each February 14 and, depending on your penchant for romance, you’ll either be looking for that special someone or you’ve already found them and, in order to hang on to them, you’ll be showering them with flowers, chocolates and presenting them with a suitably gushing card.
But the origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat less lovey-dovey and a good deal more violent. Saint Valentine, for whom the day is named, was imprisoned by the ancient Romans for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who at that time were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor. Legend has it that, during his imprisonment, Valentine, who was made a saint after his Christian martyrdom, performed a miracle by restoring the sight of a blind woman whose father had sentenced Valentine to prison.
So things were not too romantic for Valentine, but before he was executed he wrote the formerly blind woman a letter and signed it “Your Valentine”. So this was the prototype, presumably, for the Valentine card that Hallmark gets rich on every year.
So, by all means, read, listen or view something appropriate from our collection.
What could be more romantic than Titanic, the story of “two people from different worlds meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner Titanic.”
But, if you are after a more visceral take on Valentine’s Day, you could recapture the spirit of the notorious Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Prohibition-era Chicago when Al Capone’s gang murdered seven members of rival George “Bugs” Moran.
It’s Valentine’s Day! I’ve got a big, sloppy Valentine for Dan Rhodes – oh so aptly his latest book is a crop of teeny stories that skewer love and marriage. Dan does both anti-romance and the most exquisite, heartfelt portraits of love and passion – so he’s a winner for both romantics and cynics.
He has written a list for The Guardian of top 10 marriage tales. One of his picks is The Man Who Went Into the West by Byron Rogers :
Writers are weirdoes, and you must never marry one. We don’t come much weirder than the great poet RS Thomas, and this riotous biography is a beauty. Amazingly, he had a wife. Give this a read and imagine how strange it must have been to be married to (or even by) the rhyming vicar of Manafon.
And another reason to lavish love on Dan is he has my equal favourite author website (first equal with Jasper Fforde).
When it comes to music, I give a big smoochy Valentine to Aussie Paul Kelly. A: for coming to play in Christchurch A big plea to other bands and musicians: Come and visit! We won’t bite! We love music. B for some lovely lovesongs like Winter Coat and Give in to my love.
And when it comes to art, I’d like to do a big shoutout for our own Christchurch Art Gallery. They don’t have their gallery, but they keep us in arty goodness. A Caxton exhibition has just kicked off at Central Library Peterborough. There is a great show at the NG Gallery by leading Canterbury artists Tony de Lautour, Jason Greig and Bill Hammond.
Their blog is full of interesting and quirky art (and life) insights. Plus their fab shop is handily located next to Central Library Tuam (and the Re:START). It has a range of art stuff, but also lots of great gifts, art t-shirts, David Bowie paperdolls and more. Arohanui!
Have a gander at some of our previous posts about Valentine’s Day – the bright and dark sides:
And share your Valentine – who would you like to give some love too? Who are the authors and artists who ring your bell?