The provenance of Valentine’s Day is shrouded in mystery, as befits the day on the calendar reserved over all others for expressions of romance. Legend has it that a priest named Valentine defied a decree from Emperor Claudius II of Rome requiring soldiers to remain unmarried. Valentine was beheaded, or so goes the lore, for secretly officiating over the betrothals of dedicated lovers.
A competing story centers on Saint Valentine of Terni, imprisoned by the same emperor. He allegedly fell in love with a young woman who visited him, passing notes to her signed “From Your Valentine” prior to his own decapitation.
Many of us lose our heads on Valentine’s Day, though thankfully in a more metaphorical sense. The holiday does spark expressions of love in the form of gifts, often in the form of helping our beloved look and feel their best. But this approach is fraught with danger: will she interpret our gift as an expression of disappointment in how she looks now? What is a lover to do?