That funny shushing sound you hear every February 14 is Saint Valentine turning over in the dried-out rose petals in which he was buried.
How come? Because every year there’s a new survey (generally bogus) about how much sex people are expecting on Valentine’s Day.
In 2014, Time magazine reported two-thirds of men and 30 per cent of women said they’d rather have sex than get a gift.
In 2018, health and beauty site Get the Gloss advised that poor diet and farting explained why too few people were making love on the purported most romantic day of the year.
Last year, Huffington Post reported half the population wouldn’t be getting any nudie cuddle time … because they were too tired or had better things to do.
Another 2019 survey, funded by a sex toy company, found many Americans find Valentine sex “obligatory and unexciting”.
This suggests – to controversially misquote Woody Allen – they’re not doing it right.
Which brings us back to Saint Valentine.
His headless ghost isn’t distressed because too few people are getting any – he’s upset because his brand of love was all about keeping your trousers on.
Thankfully, marketers understand this fact: They just have the good taste to keep it to themselves, as they peddle merchandise with the erotic value of a turnip.
Before we name the perfect gifts to kill the mood, here’s what the day means, in its purest sense.
Who was this Valentine fellow?
Saint Valentine was a third-century saint that not even the Catholic church knows much about – such that he was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, although his feast day continues to be celebrated.
Somehow he came to be celebrated at the patron saint of young people, happy marriages, epilepsy and courtly love.
And it’s courtly love we have to talk about.
Think of ye olde knights writing poems for noblewomen – who were often married to other men – and giving them trinkets and scented hankies and going on dragon-slaying quests in their name.
No kissing, no touching, certainly no rumpy pumpy in the haystack.
It was all about gallantry, nobility and chivalry – an emotional pledge that sat between sexual desire and spiritual attainment.
This is the kind of love we’re meant to be celebrating on Valentine’s Day – not the tipsy, post-prandial knees-up aspired to by the Chantelles and Jasons of the world.
Poor Saint Valentine is said to have been martyred by heathen Romans for the crime of marrying Christian couples.
He was a tough old chook. When a beating of stones and clubs failed to kill him … and thence his blood flowed, red as the blush of a maiden etc.
His skull, crowned with flowers, is exhibited in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.
And now that we know what we’re monetising …
The ‘perfect’ gifts to kill the romantic mood
- Financial advice. The New Daily was quietly thrilled to receive a press release from the ANZ bank: “Expert’s top tips to avoid a financial fight this Valentine’s Day.” The winning piece of advice was “Don’t keep secrets. A surprise weekend away, or secret special gift can be a lovely way to show your love – but hiding a financial secret can fritter away trust. Don’t let unspoken financial tensions ruin Valentine’s Day, and put honesty first.”
- Your sweetheart’s heartbeat going on and on in your ear. A device called Pillow Talk is designed for the more devoted soul who can’t let a moment go by without connection to their loved one. “Each person has a wristband they wear to bed and a small speaker you can place under your pillow. The wristband picks up your real-time heartbeat and sends it to the other person’s pillow. In your own pillow, you can hear the heartbeat of your loved one, wherever they are in the world,” Pillow Talk promises. Great.
- Those floaty teddy bear balloons that say I wuv you. Of course, there might be a niche fetish here, but we don’t want it going mainstream.
- These things from a company called Erstwilder.
- Edible organic foods from a company called d.e.w. These things always sound pretty sexy. But as d.e.w. promises, all blends are “100 per cent organic and rich in phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, gut-loving fibre and micro and macronutrients. All blends are also vegan, non-GMO and free from gluten, dairy, nuts, refined sugars, artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, fillers and nasties”. The problem is, of course, you’ve got to lick all of it off – whatever it is – and maintain a posture of erotic confidence.
- Edible chocolate body paint. See below…
- Pamper packages. Hair and Beauty Industry Association general manager Mark Rippon said: “We’re … noticing a new trend where men are also enjoying hair and beauty treatments – there is a boom in men’s skincare products, which we expect will take off again this year.” Presumably, by the time your young stud has dragged himself away from the mirror, whatever carnal flame awaiting him has burnt out.
- Sea Life Melbourne’s Valentine’s Day dinner with sharks. The four-course dinner includes “unlimited beer, wine, sparkling, cider…” There’s nothing that says “get it on” quite so much as a river of booze, heightened emotions and things that will eat your loved one when the mood goes sour.
- Flowers. Sure they look and smell nice, but this is February, when pollen floats heavy in the air and noses and eyes run wet with hay fever. Of course, there might be a niche fetish here, but we don’t want it going mainstream.