Valentine’s Day

February as we know it now, is the most romantic of months as Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout the world with an estimated 145 million cards sent to loved ones.  We can travel back hundreds of years to find the earliest accounts of the feast day of St Valentine  – and some of its stranger associated rituals and customs! It’s thought to have originally been a Roman and Pagan quest for fertility and over the centuries it has transformed into a time for the celebration of love and affection. Chaucer and Shakespeare and more recently Coleridge and Cumbria’s very own Wordsworth all wrote lovingly about the romance of valentine.  

The Georgian era, of Coleridge and Wordsworth, also saw the first flush of romantic letter writing.  A BBC production “A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley” tells a fascinating tale of the novel “Pamela” by Samuel Richardson who, as Lucy puts it, was the ‘Fairy Godfather’ of early romantic fiction.  Along with the rise of Georgian sensibility, romance became fashionable, hence the vogue for love letters; treasured objects and love tokens to bring a loving couple closer together.

Letter Writing

For the romantic in us all, let’s get letter writing, couples will be able to exchange letters as part of their ceremony.

Letters can be a record of thoughts, feelings and ambitions leading up to the day of the ceremony. They may include the qualities appreciated in each other, hopes and dreams and reasons for choosing such a special person to share your life with; maybe registering the very moment you knew you wanted to share your lives with each other. The letters are for your eyes only, secret letters to your future selves. 

The letters can be kept in a special box, a treasure trove, to be opened on a significant anniversary, giving you the opportunity to reread, reflect and remind you of the love you have for each other.  These memories may spur you to write new letters about your future dreams.  It is a continuation of what you started on your special day, to be able to appreciate how you have grown together and your love has matured.  The treasure trove can be resealed with the new and old letters together, to be read on another anniversary as a perpetual history of the promises made to each other; making the treasure trove true to its meaning as a collection of valuable and delightful things.

Getting Engaged

As discussed in “A Very British Romance”, romantic letters often formed part of a betrothal between Georgian couples before they were wed.  There was even a manual written on how to write the perfect letter.  It would be lovely to think that in the age of the keyboard, putting pen to paper and forming the words ‘I love you’ in ink in our own handwritten script may come back into favour.  

This February being a leap year is an ideal time for an engagement.  A whole extra day to pluck up courage and take the plunge.  Many years ago, my husband and I a witnessed a very brave young man go down on bended knee in a romantic restaurant.  The staff clearly knew what was about to happen. The air was electric with anticipation; though he only had eyes for the girl before him, somehow the entire restaurant seemed to know what was about to happen. When he did, there was a few seconds of astounded silence by the very emotional recipient of his proposal, before she said yes!  A great cheer went up in the restaurant and not a dry eye in the house – so wonderful!


Handfasting is an element that can be incorporated into a wedding ceremony where the couple’s hands are symbolically bound in marriage. It is thought the term “Tying the Knot” comes from the tradition of handfasting.  Throughout the middle ages, handfasting was the term commonly used in England to simply mean ‘engaged to be married’ and was a ceremony that was held, generally around a month prior to the official church wedding; to demonstrate the couple’s commitment, as a form of contract and as a declaration of their intention to marry. Choosing a handfasting today as part of your ceremony, is a lovely way of respecting traditions of the past.