Valentine’s Day is traditionally a day that celebrates love, particularly that of the courtly, romantic and erotic kind. What is the ideal gift? This is a question that ultimately, only the giver and recipient can answer for themselves, although I certainly have some suggestions, but first a little history of Valentines Day.
The origins of Valentine’s day aren’t entirely clear. There is a strong connection to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held on the ides of February and dedicated to the god of fertility, Faunus. Valentinus was apparently an early Christian priest who, during the reign of Claudius II, performed secret marriages for young people during a time when the Roman emperor had outlawed the sacrament. Valentinus was later executed, becoming a martyr and eventually a saint.
The decision to celebrate the saint’s day on February 14th may have been an attempt to “Christianize” the popular Lupercalia festival, although many vestiges of the original pagan customs remain. The first recorded Valentine gift was a poem, composed by the Duke of Orleans in 1415 as he was held prisoner in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt. Meanwhile, the English king who put him there – Henry V – hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a Valentine message to his future queen, Catherine of Valois. The custom of exchanging affectionate notes grew over the next half-millennium, and remains one of the most popular Valentine expressions today.
The most popular gifts for Valentines Day now are cards, candy and flowers. Of course, the tradition of exchanging cards is a very old one as we’ve seen – but while these appeal to the heart, erotic love is still very much about the senses. Since its introduction into Western culture (it was unknown outside of Mesoamerica prior to the late 16th Century), chocolate in all its forms has become the most popular confection on the planet. Not only does it taste wonderful, the substance contains chemical compounds that act on the brain in ways that release endorphins – the same chemicals that surge through our bodies when we fall in love. Small wonder that gift baskets full of gourmet chocolates are always appreciated.
Scent is another sense that has great bearing on feelings of eroticism. Since time immemorial, men and women alike have used the juices of flowers and other plants to make themselves smell attractive, and of course pheromones – subtle, almost undetectable molecules of scent given off by all mammals – have been a signal of sexual receptivity for millions of years. Is it possible that the use of perfumes and colognes are attempts to amplify or imitate the effects of pheromones? I think so, which is why I recommend gift baskets filled with herbal soaps and aromatic candles. Not only might these finely scented gifts tune into a more carnal instinct, they will also certainly be appreciated and used making them a wonderful gift sure to inspire a big smile.
Of course, we cannot forget color. Although it may vary from one culture to the next, in the West, pink, white and red have been the traditional colors of love – white for purity, pink for emotion, and red for sexuality. It’s why roses of those colors are always so popular on Valentines Day. I would suggest flowers as a wonderful gift for Valentines Day, although remember that flowers should only be an opener, you must be able to do at least one better than flowers. I would also recommend trying to bring all your gifts together with one theme. For instance if you have gotten white and pink flowers, try finding gift baskets in just those colors, thus tying all your gifts together.
Massage can also be a great Valentines Day gift. Massage helps to send the message that you really appreciate all the hardwork someone puts into your relationships and shared life. Best of all you can choose to reward them with a luxurious full body massage or fun gift of corporate massage right in their office.
Most importantly remember that personalized gifts mean more than anything else. Be sure that each gift has its own meaning and is special. This can be ensured by you the giver – if you haven’t already, create a reason why you are giving each gift, it will make each one that much more special.