Parent: Be my Valentine

Written by: Annette Rawstrone
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Many settings love to celebrate Valentine’s Day – not only does it brighten up what can be a bleak month but it’s an opportunity to talk about love and kindness with children, says Annette Rawstrone.

What is Valentine’s Day?
It’s celebrated annually on 14 February and is the day when people show their affection for others by sending cards, owers or chocolates along with messages of love.

While we do know that the day gets its name from a saint there is mystery around who he actually was. The Catholic Church recognises at least three saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend is that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape from harsh Roman prisons. Another story is that he was a priest in third century Rome who continued

to perform marriage services for soldiers after it was outlawed. He was jailed and sentenced to death. Before being executed he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a letter expressing his love signed ‘from your Valentine’.

Celebrating Valentine’s Day comes from a mixture of pagan rituals linked with fertility and the advent of spring and a religious feast day.

How is Valentine’s Day celebrated?
Different cultures have developed their own traditions for this festival. Some leave sweets for children and others include gestures of appreciation among friends. In Britain it began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th Century with people exchanging tokens of affection and written notes, which began to be replaced by cards with the improvements in printing technology.

Now approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are given each year. In early years settings, the celebration lends itself to many arts and crafts activities. While there is an array of fantastic heart-shaped card and ower ideas to be found online, don’t be surprised if your child presents you with something unrecognisable.

While early years practitioners may give children inspiration and a range of materials for their artwork many will allow them to use their own imagination and creativity – surely that’s more heartfelt than an identikit card?

Your child may also get creative through baking, composing their own love poems (the poet Chaucer was the rst to link St Valentine with love in the Middle Ages) or holding a party and inviting friends and family as a way of showing their love and appreciation.

How can I embrace it at home?
You can use Valentine’s Day as a time to reassure your child about how much they are loved and talk to them about friendship, kindness and how we can show compassion to others. If you are concerned about commercialism you could encourage your child to think about how they can show others that they care in ways that do not involve spending money – such as doing a kind turn for a neighbour, phoning a grandparent who lives far away or saying thank you to their key person.

Try these books
Taking the time to share some carefully picked books with your child can help to impart the message of love while also helping them to feel individually loved as you cuddle up together.
You could consider:

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney: Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover that love is not always an easy thing to measure.

No Matter What by Debi Gliori: When Small is in a big bad mood, it’s up to Large to help. But what if Small were a grizzly bear, or a scary crocodile – would Large still love him? Of course!

I Love My Mummy’ and ‘I Love My Daddy’ by Giles Andreae: Heart-warming books with gentle, rhyming stories. Love Monster by Rachel Bright: A warm and witty look at how sometimes, when you least expect it, love nds you.

Frog in Love by Max Velthuijs: Frog is feeling most unwell. He keeps getting hot, then cold, and something inside his chest is going ‘thump, thump’. Hare says it means he’s in love! But who with? And how can he show his devotion?

Big Book of Love by Laurence and Catherine Anholt: Friendly and familiar depictions of everyday life that are bursting with love.

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