Violets for Valentines: the original rose


The Lost Love


She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove:
A maid whom there were non to praise
And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the eye!-
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

- William Wordsworth

I'll be honest, Valentines day makes me cringe. The sentiment of expressing your love for someone on a singular day of the year is pretty depressing. But, there is a wonderful wave of love themed articles, art work and photographs in the blogosphere this time of year which are right up my street. I love how the internet gives us the ability to redefine an event like valentines day,  one blog at a time! In the past I have focused on Roses for valentines day but I read in an old herbal the other day that Rose was not always the herb associated with this day. It was once Violet. 

Violet is a common herb in the UK. It grows low to the ground, never getting much higher than your ankle. It mostly looks like a clump of green leaves which are heart shaped. But if you look again you'll notice the odd flash of purple. If you get down on your knees with your hands in the dirt you'll see these tiny purple flowers. So delicate and understated. Stick your nose up against the flower, bum proudly in the air, and you will be rewarded with the incredible scent of violet. If you feel happy they haven't been wee'd on by a passing dog why not try a single fresh flower to see how it tastes? It's quite remarkably the same as a parma violet sweet (perhaps a reference not suitable for a global audience admittedly). 

It's fun to think about what sort of energy the Rose must be infusing the day with. Or rather, if Rose is  a metaphor for how we celebrate valentines what does it have to tell us? I think the way we celebrate valentines day now is very rose-like. It's in your face, it overwhelms the senses, it seduces and captivates you. If the rose valentines day was a person it would be like Jessica Rabbit from the movie Roger Rabbit.

I wonder what a violet centric valentines would be like. I think it would be more simple and understated. I think it would be more about sexual tension and allusion than the gregarious overtly sexualised version of valentines that we have today. We wouldn't focus on aphrodisiacs, sexy lingerie and getting drunk but perhaps poetry, home-cooking and cosiness. I like the sounds of the Violet centric valentines much more personally. 

Are you planning a violet valentines or a rose one?