The history of Valentine’s Day has many different interpretations. However, most accounts that I have read claim that Saint Valentine was imprisoned for preaching Christianity and marrying soldiers while at war. It was a day to recognize his martyrdom and the things he stood up for.
It was not until Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle of romantics in the High Middle Ages that Feb. 14 had any association with romantic love. Chaucer spun the day around lovers and adorning them with affection. Then, in the 18th Century, flowers, candy and heart-shaped cards made their way into the fold in England.
Be it a “manufactured holiday” by Hallmark or a religious nod to history, Valentine’s Day is noted as an important day to remember if you plan on keeping your relationship alive. A little premeditation and acknowledging some simple rules of the day can make you look very attractive in the eyes of your sweetheart.
Any woman that says “I do not care about getting cards and flowers on Valentine’s Day” is lying. She may not want them, but she wants all of her friends, coworkers, boss and everyone else in earshot to know that you are a thoughtful lover and that she is off the market. You will not soon live down the fact that you forgot Valentine’s Day if you do not buy some roses. If you are serious about this one, it is a simple truth that you will have to buy flowers.
Ladies, if you do not get flowers, well, he is just not that into you.
In addition to flowers, a card is customary. Let us leave the days of purchasing a card and signing your name to the older generations. If you want to make it seem real, you are going to have to write some feelings down on paper. Proof that you have a heart to go along with the chocolate. I know that Hallmark does a great job of printing clever love poems and verses, but your significant other wants to hear your voice in the words. Take five minutes and make it real.
Now that you have the material and emotional trinkets all taken care of, let us talk etiquette.
There is no way around it, you are going to have to dress up a little for the date. Leave the torn jeans and Nirvana T-shirt at home. You will need polished shoes, pants that require dry cleaning and a shirt with buttons on it. Those three things should be engrained in your mind for special occasion attire.
You will, also, need to feed your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. Do not plan to meet up with your friends at the bar and think that you are getting laid that night. Your friends are not in her Valentine’s Day fantasy at all. You are going to have to be creative and make it special. I am not suggesting that you have to splurge on a fine dinning meal, but at least somewhere a little quiet that prompts conversation.
If you do not normally cook, this makes for a great show of effort that is not that expensive. Just make sure you have the house to yourself. Pay attention to the details. Use real plates and silverware. Keep it simple, get a bottle of wine if that is what you like, and do not forget dessert. If this is not for you, a candlelit take-out dinner works great as well. The key to pulling this off is to focus 100 percent of your attention on the other person. No compromises there.
After the card, flowers, polishing your look and food, there is the most important part of the night: Do not get wasted.
Pulling back shots at the bar and having your date drive you home negates all the effort that you have put forth up to now. It will be the thing that is remembered. Take it slow. Sip your drink. This night is not about you. It is a show of affection. The person you are with is already into you, so you do not need to lubricate the intentions with sloppy drunkenness.
It is always polite to be completely submissive to the holiday and drink the same drink as your date. It is mushy and corny, but how cute. If you want major points to make the evening memorable, turn your date on to a new cocktail. Get them going on your style and sharing new experiences. I am not suggesting that you force PBRs and whiskey on your lover, but meet in the middle.
Here are some suggestions that will put a smile on faces. One way or another.
Champagne is a go-to ingredient for Valentine’s Day. Do not overlook the power of the bubbles. When you mix champagne, you do not have to buy the uber-pricey bottles. In fact, that is a waste. I recommend Italian sparkling wine for the price and taste.
1 oz. Vodka
2-and-a-half oz. Pomegranate Juice
2 oz. Brut Champagne
Shake vodka and pomegranate juice and strain into a champagne flute. Top with the Brut Champagne.
This cocktail is colorful, has the bubbles and a little extra punch with the vodka, making it a great blend of elegance that helps take the edge off.
If you want a cocktail that holds the true color of the holiday, but is still serious and bold, try this one. Keep in mind the “do not get wasted” rule.
Dude Looks Like a Lady
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz. Vodka (or Gin if you prefer)
In an empty cocktail glass, add the bitters and roll it around to coat the interior. Discard any remaining in the bottom of the glass. Add vodka, or gin, and ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
This cocktail will look festive, but it is all liquor and will taste like a serious drink.
While we might all agree that showing affection should happen all year long, Valentine’s Day is the one non-negotiable day of the year. In order to make it memorable and, possibly, use it to get you off the hook later on in 2014, there will be sacrifices. If you follow these humble suggestions, there will not be much to complain about. You look good, brought the gifts, provided some food and a little buzz. What’s not to love?