- Eros or Anteros – that is the question?
Most people know that the statue in London’s Piccadilly Circus is of Eros with his bow and arrow. Wrong! The figure actually depicts Anteros the god of selfless, fulfilled love rather than his more frivolous sibling who looked after the passion and desire side of things.
The statue was erected in 1892 in honour of Lord Shaftesbury who did much to improve the lives of the poor, the infirm and the insane in Victorian times.
Anteros gives us warm companionship; knowing what our partner is going to say before he or she says it; understanding their needs and being there for them in every possible way. Eros gives us a quick fumble, dodgy poetry and petrol station flowers.
- Who was St Valentine?
St Valentine was a Roman priest said to have cured a girl’s blindness by placing his hands on her eyes.
He used this miracle to persuade people to sign up to Christianity but he overdid his marketing and ended up ruffling the feathers of a few senior Romans who arranged for him to be battered to death and beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate in Rome on February 14th 269AD.
You could say that he was the first man to lose his head over a woman.
- Who started the Valentines Day rituals?
Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with starting the Valentines Day ritual as we know it today although his 15th century poem suggests that he was actually reporting on what was already happening:
“For this was on St Valentines Day.
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
The middle of February has, for time immemorial, been celebrated as the start of the new cycle when birds pair up for the season and old ladies in shawls try to sell single red roses to people eating their tea.
- Are Roses Red and Violets Blue?
Far from being fodder for cheap Valentines cards, the most famous and abused poem, ‘Roses are Red, Violets are Blue’ was actually written by a giant of English Literature – Edmund Spenser.
“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres that in the forrest grew”
If only Edmund had spent a bit more time spell-checking his epic poem – The Faerie Queen – he might have been as famous as William Shakespeare.
- What to get your Valentine?
Valentines Day is now big business – the first cards and letters were sent in the 16th century and mass-production started in the US in 1847. Valentines day is celebrated in some format or another across the globe.
As time has gone on, gifts have become more and more lavish with chocolate makers, florists, jewellers and just about any other business jumping on the bandwagon to get a cut of the billion pound seasonal bonanza.
But what to get the love of your life? Something that say’s that you care deeply about them -meaningful but not soppy. It would be wonderful if you could enjoy the gift with your partner (careful where you go with this one) and you should really aim for something that lives on beyond the day itself. Now, I may be biased but,
“Roses are red, a symbol of sin,
If in doubt, give them some Gin!”