A word from the editor: Valentine’s Day isn’t always a garden of roses - its origins in ancient Rome are far less pleasant than hearts and flowers

We didn't always say it with flowers
We didn't always say it with flowers
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If music be the food of love, it’s going to be noisy on Thursday.

It’s that time of year again when you’ve barely got the Christmas decorations rammed back into the box and wedged back into the attic/under the stairs than the shops are full of invitations to show your loved one(s) how much you care. I say loved one(s) because one of my favourite local newspaper Valentine’s stories was the man who ordered six red rose bouquets to be sent to different women. We never found out if he was a cheat and a bounder stringing along six women, or just a hopeless romantic working on the assumption that the more flowers he sent, the more chance he had that one of the recipients would return his love.

The first Valentine’s cards were handmade affairs - and no doubt meant so much more for that personal effort. Of course it was The Victorians who embraced the making and sending of romantic cards; unromantically it was because industrialisation in the early 19th-century made it cheaper to mass-produce Valentine’s cards - and the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post at the end of that century meant it cost less to send them.

These days Valentine’s Day seems to extend to just about every aspect of consumerism, so you can say I love you by purchasing anything from a heart-shaped sausage to a diamond ring.

And if the Postman doesn’t come knocking with a red envelope for you this St Valentine’s Day, take solace in this: One interpretation of its origins comes from an ancient Roman festival held on February 14, where Roman men sacrificed goats and used the skins to whip women, in the belief that this would make them fertile.

On second thoughts, a handmade card is fine...