Shot of romantic couple holding hands in a field. Close up shot of man and woman with hand in hand walking through grass field.

Shot of romantic couple holding hands in a field. Close up shot of man and woman with hand in hand walking through grass field.

In a sea of hearts and roses, it is certain that Valentine’s Day seems to get promoted more and more each year and in many ways it seems to be becoming more commercial each year. The marketers’ would have us believe that love can be measured in terms of how expensive or exotic the gifts are and whilst the Victorian tradition of cards is still going strong, expectations are now higher when it comes to the romantic art of valentine’s day which is now more associated with shopping than love.

Today a Valentine’s gift may not stop at a card and a dozen red roses, but instead  you may be looking at a Dolce & Gabbana, embellished Iguana Purse at £1,350.00 or  a bottle of Dom Pérignon, Blanc 2006 at £140.00 and if you did you may think yourself lucky for now a woman’s valentines expectations are likely to be of dazzling gems, designer handbags and exquisite perfumes, although the average British woman would settle for a bunch of droopy roses and a card. The average British man spends £50 on a valentines treat for his beloved, but A-lister. David Beckham once gave his wife Victoria a £5.5 million Bulgari necklace and it’s not just celebrity men that are into the spending; for Angelina Jolie bought Brad Pitt a 200-year-old olive tree worth £12,000 to plant in the grounds of their French chateau.

Male and female hikers climbing up mountain cliff and one of them giving helping hand.  People helping and team work concept.

Male and female hikers climbing up mountain cliff and one of them giving helping hand. People helping and team work concept.

Whilst many of us girls would be happy if our loved one had taken the trouble to buy lingerie at John Lewis and thrilled if they’d found a boutique lingerie shop,  the world’s richest would be buying the American brand’s ‘fantasy’  create bras are the most opulent in the world, worn by supermodels from Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to Cara Delevingne. These are not items are never next weeks washing, indeed the £10.4 million Red Hot Fantasy Bra, made from red satin and encrusted with 1,300 gemstones is less underwear and more investment. They are so valuable they come with two bodyguards and you have to put them on wearing gloves, well romance may not be dead…but comfort could be. It is certain that this is not a bra for burning, no matter what the feminist cause.

 

Valentine’s day has a long and interesting history. In ancient Rome, 13th, 14th and 15th February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival. This seems to be the basis for why we celebrate our love and romantic intentions on the 14th February.  By the 1600’s St Valentine’s Day has entered the popular consciousness and is even featured in literature with William Shakespeare mentioning it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet: “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,/All in the morning betime,/And I a maid at your window,/To be your Valentine.”  However, it is in the eighteenth century that Valentine’s really gains popularity. This is the period when passing of love-notes becomes popular in England. The early notelets are made of lace and paper and of a truly sentimental nature. In 1797, the The Young Man’s Valentine Writer is published, suggesting appropriate rhymes and messages, and as postal services became more affordable, the anonymous St Valentine’s Day card became possible. By the early 19th Valentine’s day became more commercial and cards have  become so popular that factories start to mass-produce them, perhaps losing some of the personal sentiment that this occasion deserves.

 

In my opinion Valentine’s day should not be quantified by a price tag, the essence should most definitely be over expressing romantic intent and on this note I caught up with a man that knows all about keeping love alive in a relationship, Mal Weeraratne, author of ‘Emotional Detox: Through Bodywork’(https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Emotional-Detox-through-bodywork-Mal-Weeraratne/1504994159)  and internationally acclaimed Tantra Master. Indeed Mal runs a training school in London called Tantric Journey and has a waiting list for women and couples awaiting treatments and training in the ancient art of Tantra. Before you start thinking of Tantra as all night sex sessions as suggested by Sting, I’ll just point out that Tantra is a Sanskrit word that literally means to  “loom, warp, weave”.  Mal explained that in the, ‘classical and ancient practice of Tantra sexual energy is harnessed, but it is not about sex or sexual performance, but a whole deeper spiritual practice. The tantric approach to couples and love making has far more to do with your mental approach than with technique. It is all about creating connection and not about ego or performance.’

Valentines is a time when many people think about getting closer to their partner and of all things romantic, but for a deeper and more meaningful gift this valentines you might want to book a couples session with Tantric Master, Mal or book yourself and your partner on one of his courses.  As Mal explained that Tantra can really help a relationship and may be the key to improving, repairing or just making a relationship last. When quizzed on how, Mal said,

‘’Relationships are based on deep heart and soul connections.’’ Which all sounds very true, he explained, ‘ Tantra can teach you on how to connect using your 5 sensors:

  1. Eye gazing for heart connection
  2. Conscious touch to embrace pleasure
  3. Smell to connect intimately
  4. Talking and hearing positive affirmations
  5. Tasting the body to arouse

Mal explains that Sting got the idea of Tantra wrong, for enlightenment and having a reverence for your partner that lasts beyond the length of any orgasm is at the core of the teachings and of his couple courses. He has trained and counselled many couples and so perhaps a copy of his book may be an excellent Valentine’s Day present, certainly he presents some interesting ideas in his book, including a chapter entitled ‘ How to win and keep a woman’s love’.

For me I think Valentine’s Day should get back to basics and it should be a simple expression of love, not of bank balance, gifts or grand gestures. It is certain that time spent, good communication and thoughtful gestures are the best Valentines gifts and the ones that form lasting memories.

 

 

Interesting Valentines Day’s Traditions around the Globe

Bulgaria

Bulgarian’s celebrate Trifon Zarezan Day on 14th February also known as Wine-makers Day. Couples celebrate by enjoying a glass or two of the nation’s best wine.

South Korea

The romantic South Koreans celebrate love on every 14th of the month – not just February.  These day’s include May Rose’s Day, June Kiss’s Day, December’s Hug Day and April’s Black day when singletons congregate to console themselves Jajangmyeon (black noodles).

Argentina

Argentinians not only celebrate Valentine’s day they set aside an entire week to enjoy and celebrate ‘Sweetness Week” when kisses are exchanged for sweet treats. Originally set up as a confectionary marketing campaign was eventually embraced by the entire nation.

Philippines

Valentine’s Day is a popular occasions for mass weddings where hundreds sometimes thousands will tie the knot in unison. These huge events are sponsored by the government as a form of service.

Japan

While in most nations the women are spoilt on Valentine’s Day, in Japan men receive most the gifts.  It is not until 4th March known as White Day that men can choose to return the favour.

 

 

About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen