Valentine’s Day is potentially the most stressful holiday for planning a meal for. You can either struggle to get a reservation at a fancy restaurant, or try to make dinner yourself. And sure, Thanksgiving is a much bigger production, but the stakes seem just so much higher when the only person your failure could disappoint is your significant other. (Probably. I’ve never been entrusted with a Thanksgiving dinner and also am chronically single.)
If you haven’t put together a plan for your romantic dinner date yet- don’t panic. The perfect, historically accurate Valentine’s Day feast may be easier to throw together than you think. (And really, isn’t historical accuracy what Valentine’s Day is really all about?)
Well, like many holidays, it’s sort of an amalgamation of a few different older festivals. The first actual connection between St. Valentine and February 14th is generally attributed to poet Geoffrey Chaucer in 1375, potentially making him the OG “greeting card company making up holidays to sell more cards” guy.
The clearest link between February 14th and celebrations of love (or, more accurately, lovemaking) before that point, however, seems to lie in the cavalcade of debauchery and bacchanalia known as Shrovetide. Said festival was an excuse to use up the last of the food that had been saved up for winter and was about to go bad, as well as give people one last hurrah before Lent (which, btw, in the process of researching this I realized the whole “giving things up for Lent” thing was traditionally because all the food they had saved up for the winter had either been eaten or gone bad, so now they had to do without anyways, so might as well make it about Jesus).
This practice has evolved in different ways in different cultures, such as Mardi Gras or Carnival, in England it eventually became Shrove Tuesday, a day where you eat pancakes. Oh, the English, always the ones to suck the fun out of everything. You took a celebration of culinary and sexual hedonism and made it as Puritan as possible. Oh well, at least we can add “pancakes” to the list.
There is one other weird tangent I want to point out, though. St. Valentine is also considered the patron saint of beekeepers, since beekeeping is generally considered to require as much tenderness and care as maintaining a loving relationship. As such, I think it’s also important to incorporate honey into a Valentine’s Day dinner
In short, start Valentine’s Day off right this year by serving your significant other a nice, tall stack of pancakes- doused in honey instead of syrup- and a heaping side of whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. If they ask “this is your idea of a romantic dinner?,” you can just say, “Clearly, you don’t know anything about Valentine’s Day.”