This week brings the holiday that many women await throughout the entire year. And if you’re scrambling to figure out what to give your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day this year, or if you happened to miss it and are looking for the perfect make-up gift, the solutions might be no farther away than your local garden center or florist.
Although flowers are the obvious choice, gardening gifts also abound to celebrate this holiday.
Most authorities believe that Valentine’s Day began with the ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia, which was held on Feb.15. In the history of the early Christian church, there were at least two saints named Valentine.
In the AD 200s, the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade the young men in his armies to marry, claiming that single men made better soldiers as then they weren’t distracted by missing their wives and children. A priest named Valentine began to marry the men and their sweethearts secretly, in private, thereby disobeying the emperor’s orders.
Another story tells of Valentine as an early Christian who was imprisoned by the Romans because he refused to worship their gods. It is rumored that the children whom he had befriended tossed pieces of paper with loving notes between the bars of his cell – and the first exchange of paper Valentines was born. Other stories claim that Valentine was executed on Feb. 14, 269, and in 496 AD, Saint Pope Gelasius proclaimed Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day in honor of this man.
In England, modern day Valentine’s Day in England is traced back to the 1400s. A Frenchman, named Charles, Duke of Orleans was captured by the English and imprisoned in the Tower of London, from which he sent his wife a rhymed love letter on Valentine’s Day.
The horticultural connection to Valentine’s Day came later, and seems to have begun in Denmark. There, people pressed white flowers called snowdrops and sent them to their friends in observance of this holiday. Perhaps because this holiday falls during the coldest part of the winter in many countries the thought of giving something living and beautiful like flowers is the reason why this tradition has become so popular.
Flowers for Valentine’s Day come in all varieties. Cut flowers are probably the most popular, with the favorite of those being roses. Should you decide to send your sweetheart roses this year, be aware of their meaning in the “language of flowers.” Roses always stand for love, but can mean different things, according to their color.
For instance, red roses mean “I love you”. Yellow roses mean “I love you, but I don’t know if you love me.” White roses stand for purity or a love that is pure.
Potted flowers are a good option for gift giving as they tend to last a little longer. Some less known possibilities are orange blossoms that represent everlasting love and that is why they are traditionally used in wedding bouquets. Zinnias represent thoughts of an absent friend. Red tulips are a declaration of love. Yellow tulips mean hopeless love. Hyacinths are playful. Gloxinia’s represent a proud spirit. Jonquils say “I desire a return of affection.” Lily of the Valley means a return of happiness. The list goes on.
Choose a gardening gift for your Valentine this year and you can’t go wrong. From pots for indoor plants, new gardening gloves, vases for flowers, a gift basket of seeds and tools to be used come spring, to a new plant to brighten a winter weary home, your local garden center or florist can provide you with an abundance of choices.
And, if you happened to miss the holiday completely, I am always reminded of a popular florists ad that recently showed a series of increasingly larger bouquets of roses with the caption underneath that read, “How mad is she?” An exceptional gift might be what you need!
Unless your sweetheart is allergic to flowers, they are, of course the traditionally perfect choice. One size fits all. They are bright and beautiful during the coldest of seasons here in the Four Corners area. They don’t contain calories or carbohydrates. They smell wonderful. And if you make your choice carefully, they could be conveying a message that says much, much more. Happy Valentine’s Week!
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274.