‘Tis the season to be romantic. While the streets still sparkle with fairy lights and starry nights give way to cozy evenings, the next of the holiday seasons is upon us: Valentine’s Day.
The holiday is named for the legendary Saint Valentine, who was said to have penned the very first love letter after he healed the daughter of his jailer. Popularized by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century, the day has evolved into a celebration of romantic love, and an opportunity to shower your beloved with gifts, flowers and grand romantic gestures.
With the help of some famous romantics and some experts in the art of love, we’ve put together some ideas to help you show your nearest and dearest just how much they mean to you.
Write a love letter
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
~ Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare
To many, letter writing is considered a relic of times gone by – one that conjures up images of Jane Austen heroines unraveling parchment by candlelight. While it may be old-fashioned, there’s no doubt that there’s something inherently romantic about a handwritten love letter.
While many of us would love to receive such a letter, sending one – and more to the point, writing one – is another matter entirely. So, where to begin? Anyone in search of inspiration needn’t look far; history is overflowing with famous love notes from celebrated writers, well-known lovers, wartime soldiers and even fictional characters. Perhaps one of the most widely shared examples comes from French actress Julie Drouet, who wrote to Victor Hugo:
I love you because I love you, because it would be impossible for me not to love you. I love you without question, without calculation, without reason good or bad, faithfully, with all my heart and soul, and every faculty.
When it comes to composing your own epistle, professional love-letter ghostwriter, Bonnie Downing, says, “Idiosyncrasies are important in a love letter. The words should sound like the sender speaking.”
There is, of course, some debate about the question of using a ghostwriter to pen something so personal. Downing herself says she would “hate to receive outsourced sentiment.” And yet she also makes undeniably valid comparisons to other common practices – pre-written poems in birthday cards; first-dance songs; even the inspirational memes shared on Facebook.
Whether you choose to speak for yourself or bring in a little extra help, remember to pay attention to the details. Even the sign off is important - as evidenced by Ludwig Van Beethoven, who first penned the six simple words now as immortal as the mysterious “beloved” to whom his letter was addressed:
Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.
Plan a Romantic Getaway
For a truly memorable Valentine’s Day, plan a special trip for you and your significant others. Whether you opt for traditional romantic holiday destinations such as the Maldives or choose somewhere more quirky and off-the-cuff, like the up-and-coming holiday destination of Bulgaria, a quiet weekend together (or perhaps even a luxurious two-week trip) is a lovely way to celebrate your relationship.
Royals such as Charlene, Princess of Monaco seem to be in agreement. In March of 2012, she and her husband, Albert, disappeared to Finnish Lapland on a charming couples’ holiday. With their trip landing just after Valentine’s Day, it could be a belated celebration for the pair. They were pictured enjoying a cozy sleigh ride through the snow – a picture-perfect way to embrace the holiday.
Buy the Perfect Gift
It’s true what they say about gift giving: it’s the thought that counts. Flowers and cards may be tried-and-tested classics, but they don’t always have the personal touch. Unless, of course, you manage to have them delivered to your beloved from 7,000 miles away, à la Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. Back in 2012, while the prince was in the midst of a six-week tour of duty in the Falkland Islands, he made sure to send Valentine’s Day gifts to his wife, Kate, back in the UK. And in return, Kate responded with a thoughtful gesture of her own: a pair of Polo Ralph Lauren Pouch trunks.
If, however, you and your partner are celebrating the day together, you may have to go the extra mile to show them how much you care. Premium concierge services such as Ten Group and Quintessentially are inundated with client requests at this time of year, with orders ranging from the traditional – a dozen long-stemmed roses – to the extravagant – an album recording session with the finished result to be released on iTunes.
Gift an Experience
Another popular saying is that memories last a lifetime, and so you might consider booking a special experience for your other half for Valentine’s Day. You could book them into a spa for a day of luxury pampering, or you could find an experience the two of you can enjoy together.
There’s some speculation that Prince William might be planning to do just that with a spectacular Valentine’s Day surprise for Kate. He’s due to receive a new helicopter to be used for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, for which he works as a pilot. Rumors suggest that he might be planning a private flight for him and his wife in celebration of St Valentine’s holiday.
Of course, experiences don’t always have to be Sometimes, it really is the effort that counts. Twitter has ignited the interest of Love Actually fans with a picture a train passenger spotted on his way to Gatwick Airport on Christmas Eve, holding nothing but a sprig of mistletoe.
As far as grand gestures go, few things can top running through the airport. And yet the small gestures, too, can mean just as much when coming from the right person. In the words of the much-loved film that our airport amore seems to be mimicking, love actually is all around us.