Hearts and gifts have instantly replaced Christmas and New Year decorations in shops. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last weeks, you’ll notice that Valentine’s Day is rushing towards us.
But what do Valentine and Dwynwen have in common?
Well, they are both patron saints of lovers and had a tragic life. Indeed, Valentine, or Valentinus, lived in the Roman Empire and before being on all the cards and gifts on February 14th, he was known for defending Roman soldiers by performing forbidden marriages.
Less famous than her international counterpart, Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent to Valentine’s Day. “Dydd Santes Dwynwen”, Welsh Valentine’s Day, is celebrated on January, 25th.
Her story is more confusing than Valentine’s as many versions of her story exist and much of the Welsh culture and history use stories and songs, which orally pass legends from one generation to another.
The most common version depicts Dwynwen, the most beautiful daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. In the 5th century, she fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but her father had already arranged her marriage with someone else.
Full of sadness, Dwynwen prayed God to make her forget him. In her sleep, she was visited by an angel who gave her a potion, which erased Maelon from her memory and turned him into a block of ice.
God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen who ask for Maelon to be thawed, for all lovers to be reunited and to never marry. These wishes fulfilled, Dwynwen devoted her life to God and founded a convent on the west coast of Anglesey, which became a place of pilgrimage for lovers after her death.
But not many people know about the origins of Valentine’s Day.
Glamorgan University Adam, 21, said “I vaguely know it because it was in ‘How I met your mother’, but I wouldn’t have known it otherwise.”
Same goes for Dydd Santes Dwynwen; Alun, 20, from Wales, said “I vaguely remember something about it but couldn’t tell you the story. I have a girlfriend but Valentine’s Day has got no significance for us”.
Generally, Valentine’s Day is devoted to your loved ones, especially your partner. Luckily, The Archer will give you some last minutes ideas to make this day perfect.
The most praised activity on Valentine’s Day remains the tête-à-tête romantic dinner. Depending on your budget in Cardiff, you can book a table at the posh Hardwick, count £44 per person. Or get the cheap and cosy option at Tiger Tiger, £15 for a 3 course meal plus glass of wine, or at the Italian restaurant Ask, around £18.
Shall you rather fancy a movie night, you can go for the romantic thriller “Safe Haven”, for “Escape from planet Earth” if you’re having a family night or for “A good night to die hard” if you’re feeling like boycotting the whole thing.
If you want to be original, bet on comedian Jim Davidson’s show in Llanelli, West Wales or on a day in a spa, from £50 depending on your package.
Since you’re in Wales, you should check the Lovespoon Gallery, Swansea, which has been gathering traditional lovespoons for the last 25 years. Pamela Price from the gallery said that “lots of people are coming in for Valentine’s Day, they’re looking for lovespoons with different meanings as original gifts.”
But not everyone has a partner to exchange Valentine’s gifts with. For single people, Valentine’s Day is often a mundane or rather depressing day. For single Cardiff University student Alexandra, 21, “it’s just a normal day, really”.
Don’t feel bad about being single on Valentine’s Day. As Dr Sofia Gameiro, researcher at Cardiff University’s School of Psychology said “Valentine’s Day is not so much about celebrating love, it’s a consumerist experience.” She added: “Love is about caring for another person so Valentine’s Day celebrates this everyday life with your partner, it’s like any other day.”
So whatever you’re doing this Thursday, remember that “nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness” as Dwynwen used to say.
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