“You have to kiss many a frogs before you find your prince.” That’s the pop-up card I gave my then boyfriend, now husband, at the age of 17. I thought it was witty and romantic.
Two decades have passed since that Valentine’s day, and from all the gifts given and sweet nothings exchanged, my husband still recalls that Hallmark card.
As our 20th Valentine’s day anniversary approaches, I have been trying hard to replicate the “froggy card” moment with a gift that’s at once romantic and memorable, and also useful and personal. But in today’s zillion-choices’ marketplace, it’s been a rather frustrating experience, scrolling through sites and walking through aisles at shops, it’s a real I-want-it-all and I-want-nothing dilemma.
In my teens, I remember, there used to be a Valentine’s day prep strategy. In the weeks leading up to the 14th of February, subtle questions were dropped to see what your sweetheart wanted.
Or your boyfriend or girlfriend asked you to come along with him/her to a store to “help” choose a gift for another friend.
These rather transparent tricks always seemed to work, as we were young and la vie was en rose.
Today, it’s another story and a new plan is the need of the hour.
How did it all begin: The Legends of Love
The origin of Valentine’s day still remains a mystery. The only things that historians seem to agree on is that it began sometime in the Middle Ages, that it was celebrated in the month of February, and it had to do with love.
The Love over War version One legend speaks of a catholic priest called Valentine who helped soldiers in Rome get married in secrecy. A Roman king had decided that single men made better soldiers than married ones, and it was Father Valentine who stood up for love.
The Love and Death Version Another version says that father Valentine was imprisoned because he was helping prisoners escape the cruelty of Roman prison guards. He then fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and before his death, he sent her a letter which he signed as “From your Valentine,”- a phrase we still use today.
Boy-meets-Girl Valentine’s day may also have originated from a Pagan festival called Lupercalia that commemorated fertility and was celebrated in February. Lupercalia is a ceremony where young single women put their names in an urn, then the bachelors would each choose a name. And thus a young couple would be paired for a year.
It is very likely that the Catholic Church may have renamed this pagan festival as St. Valentine’s day, as it also coincided with the death of the priest Valentine.
Valentine’s day, as we now know it, became popular in 19th century America.
It’s Spring in the East In India, Valentine’s day became a fad only in the mid 90s. However, it does coincide with the season of Spring or Vasanta as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
The Gift for my Valentine
I finally found a gift that I was searching for. It’s perfect. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before and why it isn’t lined up on the shelves because it’s personal, useful, romantic and healthy (yes, it even has the “it” adjective of our times).
It’s tea. And there were some fine options to choose from.
My top pick Hand-plucked and hand-rolled serene green tea from the Himalayas that is laced with rose petals from Rajasthan. Green tea that’s rejuvenating and healthy and the sweetness of rose petals which adds not only an enthralling fragrance to the brew but also leaves a sweet aftertaste.
Then, there’s Jasmine tea with its soothing fragrance which helps to soothe the senses after a hectic day at work and after navigating through crazy traffic.
Finally, there’s Cardamom tea. It’s earthier than Jasmine and Green tea, and leaves a sensual after-taste of spice.
These tea varieties are packed in pretty and pristine jars, which are made of hand-crafted ceramics from Sri Lanka. The jars come in classic black and white hues.
My shopping’s done. I look forward to clinking my cuppa with my husband, hoping that the heart-warming brews will leave a sweet tasting memory.
Another Cheesy Love Quote
Our friendship’s like a cup of tea, a special blend of you and me.