Sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make someone happy. Sometimes, the best gestures are the classic ones, the conventional symbols of love and affection that have endured through the ages. Case in point: Valentine’s Day.
You could give your significant other a “modern” gift – a new cell phone or a fitness tracker, as examples – but there isn’t much warmth in those kinds of gifts. They are just commodities, and can’t communicate any deeper romantic message. They may be perfectly serviceable for birthdays or the holidays, but they fall short on Valentine’s Day.
This February 14th, turn to the classics, the greatest hits of Valentine’s Day celebrations. In this post, let’s discuss three such classics, and talk a bit about their history as gifts – why they’ve endured, and why they’re popular.
Flowers (in particular, roses) are perhaps the most iconic Valentine’s Day gift. Ask anyone what a single red rose means and they’ll tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that it symbolizes love and romance.
Why is that? Well, in many cultures, including Western culture (out of which Valentine’s Day was created), flowers symbolize love and fertility. They grow from the ground, stirringly fragranced and magnificently coloured, and bloom into ornate patterns. It’s easy to see why people attached such lofty meaning to them!
In Greco-Roman times, roses were associated with Aphrodite (or Venus), the goddess of love, which is likely why early Valentine’s Day celebrators thought to give roses to their sweethearts. The rose remains a popular gift to this day because of its vivid appearance, pleasing fragrance and – yes – its storied history.
Jewellery is the classic “wow factor” Valentine’s Day gift, whether it’s the boyfriend surprising his girlfriend with an engagement ring, the wife surprising her husband with new wedding bands or the guy who just wants to surprise his long-term partner with a beautiful diamond necklace.
Jewelllery has been a popular gift item since antiquity, not only because of the rarity of precious metals and gemstones, but because of their radiance and beauty as well. The ring, with its closed loop design, has been a long-standing symbol of eternal love, and the gifting of precious metals and gems has long been a conveyance of admiration and affection.
It’s a classic Valentine’s Day gift, but it never feels staid or boring. You present your loved one with a diamond necklace or a gold ring, and their jaw will always drop.
For many, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate. If you polled 100 people, Family Feud style, and asked them to name something associated with Valentine’s Day, chances are most of them would say chocolate.
Chocolate didn’t make its way to Europe until the 16th Century, but by that time it already had a reputation among the Aztecs (who first cultivated the bean) as being a powerful aphrodisiac. English Victorians trusted this assessment, and for a long time considered chocolate a tool for virility and seduction.
Nowadays, chocolate isn’t exactly considered the love drug it once was, but it retains its strong associations with love and romance.
Not only are these three classic Valentine’s Day gifts steeped in history, they continue to surprise and delight lovers to this day, proving that, sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to say “I love you”.