Valentine’s Day: love it or hate it?

written by Beth on February 14, 2013 in News with one Comment

Love it or hate it, today is Valentine’s Day. Ok, so there’s a lot of commercial nonsense around it, and if you go out for dinner tonight, you’ll probably be disappointed with crowded restaurants, less-than-mouth-watering set menus, and bad service, but that aside, I think it’s rather nice.

I like to think of all the people nervously finding ways to tell someone they think they’re great, the shy smiles, the first dates.  And the more established couples who still find time to write a thoughtful  message in a card – or the ones, like some friends of mine, who invested in pretty cards several years ago and simply bring the same ones out each year and reminisce.

But it’s also a day that makes others feel lonely or sad, so why not buy a bunch of flowers for your single best friend or a family member, or just tell them how much you appreciate them?

Whatever you think about Valentine’s Day, I hope you appreciate the items related to love that  I found in Europeana below. For those cynics, scroll down to the last one – it’s more of an anti-Valentine.

First up, tradition and a rather beautiful and elaborate 3D Valentine’s card.

Valentines Card Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Diecut, folded, multiple layer valentine's card, showing a young girl in a green dress with a green bow in her hair holding a card with the message 'To my valentine'. She is sitting in an ornate gazebo / summer house / bandstand, a large bouquet of red and pink roses in a basket to her right, both on a pink, ottoman style seat made of honeycomb paper puff, as is the red heart above and the turquoise roof of the building.1928 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Valentines Card, Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Diecut, folded, multiple layer valentine’s card, showing a young girl in a green dress with a green bow in her hair holding a card with the message ‘To my valentine’. 1928 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Next, a pair of lovebirds looking lovingly into each other’s eyes.

Two lovers holding roses enclosed in an oval frame. Watercolour. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Two lovers holding roses enclosed in an oval frame. Watercolour. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Then, Amant honouring the God of Love in a 14th century French manuscript.

Amant honouring the God of Love, The National Library of The Netherlands, public domain image

Amant honouring the God of Love, The National Library of The Netherlands, public domain image

Now, we start to get a little cynical. Have a read of this, it’s a kind of love potion recipe called  ‘A receipt for a person to make her husband love her’. The first lines read ’1st. Let her be meek & Humble & condescending in all things. Careful & reasonable to her husbands humour.’ Hmm, I’m not sure about the meek and condescending thing – I’m glad I wasn’t around in the early 1700s.

A receipt for a person to make her husband love her. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Circa 1710 from A Booke of Physicke. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

A receipt for a person to make her husband love her. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Circa 1710 from A Booke of Physicke. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

And finally, an apothecary mixing his own love potion of sorts – and one that I’d steer clear of!  The verse reads:

Oh, curse ye, you Your patients kill
With naucious draughts and filthy Pill
Tho you to death yourself should pine
You neer shall be my Valentine

Caricature: Valentine print, grotesque apothecary. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Coloured etching circa 1850. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Caricature: Valentine print, grotesque apothecary. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Coloured etching circa 1850. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc 2.0 UK

Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all!