strawberry and rhubarb buttter

Q&A: Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Tell us how or why not.

Oh, Valentine’s Day. A few of us could do away with the chocolate-dipped heart-shaped holiday, others embrace the opportunity for a romantic evening with their significant other, and the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Danny and I have never stated a tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day for a simple reason: I was always working. In our days of dating and for the first five years of marriage, I worked one of the busiest nights in the restaurant industry. (Mother’s Day and New Year’s Eve also rank high on a level of insanity.)

On February 14 I was otherwise occupied plating hundreds of chocolate deserts and decorating them with raspberry coulis. When I quit work to stay at home with my boys, I continued to associate Valentine’s Day with long hours, sore feet and demanding customers. I suppose that is how it is going to be from now on and that is fine.

Instead, we’ve made our own traditions, like keeping Friday evenings work-free, mixing a cocktail and having ‘us’ time. We have a terrific babysitter that enables us to get out to our favourite restaurants on occasion. Those allotted times to connect are essential in a marriage, especially during this stage of life with young children and two careers.

ginger custardPhoto by Megan.

So do you stay in or head out? Do you find Valentine’s Day hyped up?  What is the deal with all the red velvet? And why does the onus to plan something always fall on the fellow? I never understood that.

Also, why flowers and chocolate?

If I wanted to be spoiled, it would not involve chocolate (most likely made by forced child labor) or cut flowers (some of the most toxic things you can bring into your home). Instead I’d opt for:

  • a gift certificate for a massage
  • an afternoon off
  • a cookbook
  • a love note
  • a project finished around the house (romantic, I know)
  • a meal prepared for me
  • a morning to sleep in
  • a basket of locally made gourmet treats

What would you add to the list?

So, truth be told, we’re due for a date night in tonight, with dessert, too. We’re all recovering from colds and haven’t had sweets in ages. I’ll probably make these Ginger Custard & Raspberry Parfaits or Lemon Pudding with Raspberry Sauce. I’m craving the comfort of pudding and both recipes are so simple. Fortunately, my freezer is still stocked with berries from last summer. If mid-February isn’t the time to enjoy them, then I don’t know when is!

If you are celebrating Valentine’s Day at home tonight, you might want to check out Ashley’s tips for a romantic night in over on The Kitchn. It’s a great read and she’s a bit of an expert on the subject.

Whatever you do, here’s hoping your day is sweet.

Share your plans! Or un-plans. What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. We’re not big on Valentine’s day. We celebrate Chinese New Year (and sometimes Mardi Gras) which usually fall around the same time, so we’ve got other holidays to focus on. We do usually try to do something small and special. Tonight we have a Whole Foods gift card that my parents gave us for Christmas, so we’re going to go buy some nice fish or beef and cook one of those for dinner. We rarely buy either of those meats because of the price, so it’s a special occasion when we do :-)

  2. As a couple, we keep it really low key. The kids get way more into it though, they’ve got hand cramps today from addressing valentines for their classmates.
    Robin from Frugal Family Times’s last post: Gifts She’ll Love – for Under $20

  3. Aimée,
    Do you know what I did earlier this week to show my love for my spouse? Cleaned out the refrigerator.
    It was bothering him, and he’s been sick with a cold–the kids and I are starting to get it and the spouse is starting to feel better–so I changed my plans and cleaned to show him I love him.
    As a side benefit I do have a clean fridge and am reminded of some cheese I’d forgotten about, I tossed some disgusting . . . items, and restocked my soup stock supply by making a vat of stock.
    At the thrift shop where I work, I spent $3 each (that’s $28.50 Canadian) on little gifts for the kids. My daughter will unwrap a sparkly bracelet and my son will read–and then share–a book in a series we all enjoy. My spouse and I plan to take a cooking class together next month.
    I was going to make a fancy shrimp scampi for us to enjoy, but with him recovering, and the rest of us getting sick I will hold off until we’re all well and can truly appreciate the food. So, as it’s Friday and we eat pizzas on Friday, I’ll make us a simple cheese pizza to enjoy together.
    It’s sled hockey season, so I always have at least one kind of cookie dough in the fridge or freezer to bake up for tournaments, but I think I’ll walk down to the market and pick up some Salted Caramel Killer Brownies and then go walk to the ice cream store for Salted Caramel ice cream, then walk home. If I bring the dogs we’ll all get some exercise.
    Kirsten’s last post: Quick Pickled Beet and Herring Salad

  4. My husband and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. Neither of us grew up with parents that put emphasis on celebrating it as a couple. It was more of a kid thing – we’d put out a few decorations, write our classmates cards, and mom would give us a card with a few treats (which she still does through mail today;)). Web would much rather celebrate our birthdays in January and March. :)

    • That is sweet that your mom still sends treats! Yeah, we never did anything as kids on Feb 14. Instead my mum taught us about giving and sharing year round and, of course, showing love through our words and actions. Basic human kindness, really, but often overlooked today.

  5. We’ve done both -gone all out on the 14th and gone very minimally. Now, we will go out for a nice dinner and get all dressed up somewhere around the 14th. I would far prefer one of the items off your list then chocolate or roses. A new house plant is always welcome. This year, Jared got coffee beans and a new bath oil. He’s working all this weekend so we’ll go out at some point.

    I’ll make a tea party with my little girls and we’ll all dress up because they love that. Valentine’s Day isn’t about the lovers to me, it’s a day to celebrate love in all its many forms.
    Enjoy that pudding and down time!!
    Breanne’s last post: Love for the Mother {on self care}

    • Coffee! That’s a great gift. Fair trade, shade grown and all that good stuff. ;)

      I think having girls is different on Valentines than boys. I had to coax the boys to write their teacher’s valentine….and no-one missed having something heart-shaped for breakfast. ;)

      A tea party sounds lovely though. I’ll give Clara a few years.

  6. When my children were still in the home I would make a heart shaped meat loaf, potatoes, cookies and biscuits. This was my Valentine to them.

  7. We don’t go all out for Valentine’s Day but there is a sense of fun about it. I certainly don’t want Simon to spend a fortune on flowers but it was nice that he go me a new charm for my Pandora bracelet and Timothy made me a card at school, which he was very excited about.
    We will be making pizza tonight so Timothy is over the moon.
    As for Timothy’s school day, we did send little Valentines for each classmate (just a little Superman one in those boxed sets – nothing elaborate) and for each teacher. He has two teachers in his class and one that he goes to in the sensory room. No gifts or treats though.
    Christina’s last post: Comment on Braised Chicken Thighs in a Mushroom Cream Sauce by Simon

  8. We usually don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in a big way. I opt to make a special dinner for after the kids have gone to bed. But this year my husband made reservations and babysitting arrangements weeks ago – it’s only the second time we’ll have left the baby, so I’m looking forward to it, cheesy as it will be.

    If I could choose a gift it would probably be sleeping in, then gently woken up with a cup of coffee and croissant, and my husband getting the raised beds ready for planting ;)
    Megan’s last post: Easy Steak & Cheese Sandwiches

    • That is nice of him! And I totally get how special a night out is w/o a new born. Now here’s hoping that the restaurant can step it up! Most places are looking to turn tables 3x and rake in the cash. Or maybe those were just the lame places I worked once upon a time. ;)

      Enjoy, Megan! You deserve it.

  9. Call me lame but I hate waiting in line to eat dinner – there are so many choices out there, why do it? For most of the eight years of our marriage (almost 9!) we have gone to little places like Arby’s or Dairy Queen for dinner – heck you still get out of the house, it is much quieter and you can still spend time together. That is worth more to me – spending real time together, that isn’t watching the DVR or tapping on a computer.

  10. Amen to this! My boyfriend and I have a standing agreement to not get anything for each other for any holiday. Instead, we plan on having some particular “us” time for that holiday. I have found that this means nobody is disappointed if the other was too busy to concoct some expensive romantic gesture – plus we save money that way!
    Lauren’s last post: Zero Waste Q&A: Where Does Zero Waste Start?

  11. We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day – but it is a good reminder for a date night at a time when you’ve just come through the rush of the holidays and January blahs. (and especially this year because we’re in the midst of home renos – we need a date night!) So we’re going to a cooking demonstration class at a local store where we will learn how to include chocolate in every course (and of course get some tasting in as well!). When we don’t find something interesting to do – just some “us” time over food and wine is all we need.

  12. We aren’t big on Valentine’s Day here, at least not in the romantic sense, though I do like making treats for friends and family. Kind of an excuse to remind them that I love them, you know? It’s not something I say to my friends every day, so a homemade treat is a good way to show them I care.

    We will most likely be cutting flooring for our half bath renovation tonight, once Clara is in bed. Not romantic by most standards, but we enjoy working on DIY projects together. Perhaps we’ll make a fancy cocktail, too, once the power tools are put away and all.
    Courtney’s last post: Creamy Spinach and Avocado Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

  13. I don’t make a big deal out of Val Day anymore. More so when my kids were young and at home. I don’t have a problem with people celebrating it in their own way. If they want to buy flowers and chocolate and go out to eat then so be it. I do think val day is overrated though. And true feelings and sentiment should be expressed any day of the year. I was always working on this day also. Standing and arranging flowers for a week until all hours of the morning with my fingers bleeding from the rose thorns. I am probably going to die from all the toxicity I was exposed to!!! NOT! I preferred to have my husband to take me out to eat on Feb 15 (if he wanted to) because the day before I was too dead tired and exhausted. I did appreciate him buying me flowers since I spent hundreds of hours arranging them and giving them away to other people.

  14. I’m not a fan of any special day that involves doing something out of obligation. I don’t like giving out of obligation and I really dislike receiving a gift given out of obligation. Don’t like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and even certain aspects of Christmas (working retail for ten years didn’t help – I feel you on the working holidays thing). To me, what speaks volumes more is what you do for people you love on the days that aren’t special… just because you know it will make them happy :)
    Melissa’s last post: The Boston Wallbanger and Other Beer Cocktails

  15. Our fisrt Valentine’s Day together was in high school, and then we didn’t get to even see each other on the day (our colleges were halfway across the country from each other) until 5 years later, after we’d been married for 9 months.
    We usually splurge on nice ingredients and cook something a little fancier together, which we really enjoy. This year, however, we got afternoon tea reservations at a local hotel. It was fabulous.

  16. My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day. We try to make time to spend together every weekend, as he works during the day and I work evenings. We have had this schedule since our daughter was born. It allowed me to stay home with her when she was young and now that she is in school (Grade 2), I run errands, bring her home for lunch and pick her up after school. I always make sure to make her Valentines to hand out to her classmates though. We really just enjoy spending quiet time together on the weekends after our daughter is in bed.

  17. We cherish Valentine’s Day not just as a celebration of romantic love but as an opportunity to celebrate and express all kinds of love–love for our children, other family, and friends. As a teacher, I seize the day to express appreciation for my students and colleagues as well.

    Since our culture is not particularly comfortable with overt expressions of love (unless it’s the Hollywood romantic kind), this day is just too sweet to miss.

  18. My hubby and I don’t do anything special on Valentine’s Day. The weekend before we always meet up with my girlfriend of 50 years for a casual dinner. We are usually working on some kind of project here in our home on most weekends.

    We are slowly rehabbing our 1831 farmhouse. This weekend will be a fun work weekend for us. I say fun, because we thoroughly enjoy working together on our projects. This weekend we are prepping and getting ready to install a Kohler U.S.A. 1923 Washboard Sink. This last week we have been without water in the kitchen. Its like camping, except my washbasin is the bathroom sink. Its a small price to pay, for the upcoming end results in the kitchen.

    Today we will be plastering walls in the kitchen, painting, then wallpapering and putting a base coat on the bottom of the vintage sink. Tomorrow we will hang the sink on the wall.

    I am blessed to have such a wonderful husband, I always say everyday is like Valentine’s Day, as a day doesn’t go by, that he doesn’t tell me he’s the luckiest man ever and there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t compliment me in some way. We’ve been married 37 years. I find sweet notes from him often. He surprises me with flowers. Our love is continuously growing more and more. He does not usually cook, but we will be making homemade ravioli together for dinner tonight. What more can I say? :)

    • That is the sweetest, Dee. An few people have commented and said they will be spending V-day renovating their home together. Sounds like true love!

  19. Interesting how valentine’s differs for everyone- from traditional to some not observing at all and others making it more about the kids. I find that it’s more kid-centric for us, too since my parents didn’t place much emphasis on it themselves and as kids, we exchanged valentine’s with our classmates. I do crafts with the kids, making their own v-cards and sometimes a heart-shaped treat, dessert or food of some kind.
    Flowers and chocolate do seem like a cop-out unless they’re absolute faves of the recipient- otherwise it’s kind of a go-to gift that doesn’t have much thought behind it.
    And as for men being the givers- it seems that valentine’s has become whatever people what it to be- some women make plans & buy gifts for their guys and some take the opportunity to be treated only. But I certainly don’t pity the men- I think this is one celebration that could be left up to them. I don’t know many (well… any) men who do the shopping for xmas and birthday gifts for family members,,, or even much of the preparations for holiday hosting. I know there are some exceptions but generally men buy a gift for their significant other and seldom anyone else. They could step up once in awhile- let them have valentine’s.
    We don’t really do gifts for this or even birthdays for one another unless we see something that the other would really appreciate- it’s more about thoughtful gifts than obligatory. For that reason, I really like the idea of coffee beans or a cookbook or an extra task around the house. They seem like something that would be much more appreciated.

  20. Auntiepatch says:

    We exchange e-cards (no paper for landfills) and call it a day.

  21. We have my daughters’ birthdays at the beginning and end of February, my husband’s on the 10th and then our wedding anniversary March 1st. If we are in the mood to get each other something, we do, but it’s not expected. There’s enough festivities going on for us!
    Hanna’s last post: Two!

  22. We like to spend time together rather than exchange gifts for most holidays. (Unless there is something really special in particular that we have picked out and we agree on it beforehand.)

    This year we went to a dinner and dance at church. Many couples were there and we all renewed our vows. We got to see a couple that has been dating since the 40’s. They were married in 1950. It is some beautiful motivation to see them dancing together so in love.
    AJ Everton’s last post: Holy Coffee!

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