Valentine's Day in Chicago: Best Things to Do 2021 | Choose Chicago

Although not a public holiday in the US or any other country, Valentine’s Day is still widely recognized as a culturally significant celebration of romantic love in many regions of the world. Although heavily commercialized and generally seen as secular in nature, this holiday associated with purchase and exchange of store-bought goods like cards, flowers, and chocolate, began as a Christian feast day venerating the martyrdom of one or more saints bearing the name Valentine. There are many things you want to do on this day: buy flowers, book a hotel for your romantic getaway, or prepare candle light dinner for your better half. And there are many ways to surprise your partner and show your love. But they can be much more simple and affordable than you might think.  

A Bit of History

The 14th of February is actually a feast day in the Anglican Communion and Lutheran church, but became known as Valentine’s Day because of a certain saint of ancient Rome. The reigning emperor Claudius II had banned marriages, believing that single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine performed secret wedding ceremonies for soldiers, thus showing his reluctance to comply with the laws enacted by the selfish ruler.

Unfortunately, Claudius caught wind of this and imprisoned the priest. To give him his due, the emperor presented the prisoner with the opportunity to save himself. He offered to spare his life if he, Valentine, converted to Roman paganism. Valentine refused, instead trying to convert the emperor to Christianity. In response, the arrogant ruler ordered the priest’s execution. 

It’s commonly said that before his execution, Valentine wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter by the name of Julia, whom he had healed her of blindness, and signed off with ‘Your Valentine’ as a farewell. It’s also believed that Julia planted a pink blossoming almond tree near his grave. Therefore, for people in Italy and elsewhere, the almond tree remains an enduring symbol of abiding love and friendship.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t appear to have been associated with romantic love until the time of Jeoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. In his poem ‘Parliament of Fowls,’ Chaucer writes something to the effect when translated into modern English, ‘For this way St. Valentine’s Day when all the birds of every kind that man can imagine come to choose their mates.’ By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging of chocolates and cards had become quite common. And today, St. Valentine is widely celebrated by people of all faiths all over the world.

An image of roses
Photo by Sidney Pearce on Unsplash

Valentine’s Day Ideas to Consider 

As it has been mentioned earlier, Valentine’s Day is now a great opportunity for millions of retailers and manufacturers to profit on people’s feelings and desire to surprise their significant others. It’s no secret that chocolates and Valentine cards remain one of the most popular gifts lovers exchange on this day. In fact, 25% of all cards sent each year are Valentines! But what you want to do is be original and even more romantic!

Hand-Made Gifts and Cards

We highly recommend that you opt for DIY Valentine cards instead of using default options. It’s a great way to show your personal involvement in the creation of an object intended to symbolize your love and emotional attachment. Should you be stuck for Valentine card ideas, take advantage of online card makers designed to help you create eye-catching cards from scratch. You can also check out dedicated vlogs and DIY YouTube channels to garner inspiration necessary for the realization of your creative ideas. Consider creating some fun origami projects for your Valentine’s Day, present your honey with a hand-knit sweater, or clay sculpture.

Romantic Dinner in the Comfort of Your Home

To celebrate the spirit of romance, try and arrange a romantic dinner at home. Booking a table at some fancy restaurant is great; still not all couples can afford that. What more, it can be quite problematic under the restrictions imposed by the notorious coronavirus pandemic. There are plenty of old-fashioned win-win recipes for an ideal Valentine’s Day date you’ll want to try out on such a special day. Make breakfast in bed for your partner. Don’t aspire to cook anything exquisite or restaurant-caliber if you don’t have cooking experience or necessary skills. Just make food visually pleasing and decorate it in some romantic way. Rose petals, almonds, and berries always work great!

Indoor Picnic

You may also consider having an indoor picnic or organize an amazing Valentine’s Day party at home. If both you and your partner don’t mind guests on Valentine’s Day, invite your close friends or couples you know well.

St. Valentine, whoever he was, still remains something of a mystery, a composite figure born out of legendary accounts and scrapes of history. But in the end, perhaps, what’s more important than who he was is what he symbolizes – the celebration of enduring love and friendship. To make this special day memorable or even unforgettable, make sure to spend it with your significant other and show your true feelings. And hopefully, your relationship will evolve into a lifetime commitment.