Many years ago, coming to the end of an overcooked relationship, I was given some  “Garage Roses” for Valentine’s Day. Like many other roses to be found and purchased this time of year the Stems were Sergeant Major Straight; the Buds Tight Shut  and  any Nasty Thorns removed. I had the extra benefit of the faint aroma of petrol!

These flowers were not Roses and the giving of them was not Love.

Although popular now Red Roses were not the original Valentine gift of choice . Exchanging of Valentine’s gestures began in earnest at the end of the 18th century with the giving of beautiful hand-crafted cards made from ribbon and lace.For anybody interested is seeing some examples of these wonderful cards visit the  Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection   at the Manchester Metropolitan University.

Demand grew very quickly and soon factories were opening to produce such cards in far greater quantities.In 1835 60,000 Valentine cards were being sent by post even though postage at that time was expensive. However, with the 1840 invention of the Penny Black  the number of yearly Valentine Cards being posted quickly rose to over 400,000.

In 1868, the British Chocolate Company Cadbury jumped on the bandwagon, creating Fancy Boxes — a decorated box of chocolates — in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day.  By the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts, such as jewellery,books and of course roses!!

Flowers, cards, chocolates and even jewellery are probably today the most recognised presents that are given or sent on Valentines day. But are any of them enough? Does a heart-shaped box of chocolates hold the same value as the Garage Roses I spoke about earlier?

I believe most of us know the answer to the question. The value is not in the present but rather in the intent. Red Roses can be enough but one hug, one word, one gesture can so easily be treasued as much if not more than any type of gift.

For those of you who struggle to give love a voice and want to declare your feelings with the written word rather than the Red Rose I will close this blog with one of my favourite love poems and not a whiff of petrol anywhere!!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everybody.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

E.E. Cummings 1950