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You might have noticed that this month has Valentine's Day.


It's origins are pretty vague, although the Encyclopedia Britannica suggests it might be linked to a Roman celebration for the coming spring. Romans practised fertility rites, including a lottery to pair men and women together.  This festival was banned by the Pope at the end of the 5th century and perhaps Valentine's Day replaced it, but it was only in the 14th century that romantic love became the focus.

Nowadays it is celebrated in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines,  United Kingdom, and United States. In the Philippines it is the most popular day to marry.


There is a lot of commercial hype about it, which can leave people who aren't in a relationship feeling left out. However, there has been an increase in the last few years of people using this time to express their appreciation and love for their friends.


????

There's that word 'love' which carries a lot of meaning and a lot of baggage too!


It is more intricate than at first glance: we can love our pet, love your jumper, love to ride motorbikes, love my parents, my neighbour, my friends, myself, my partner, love colour, love artmaking, reading and so it goes on.


What does it all mean?

To try and understand what we mean by this word 'love' Tim Lomas, a lecturer in positive psychology in London, analysed words from 50 languages (just scratching the surface) and came up with 14 different ways of loving. The first three cover the "fondness and passion for certain activities (meraki), places (chōros) and objects (eros)."2

There are words for aspects of romantic love, or selfless love. Endemophilia, developed by an environmental philosopher, Glenn Albrecht,  means the love of local and regional environmental aspects by people of the area, and is central to my book and art exhibition released last November.*


Lomas developed words to cover non-romantic ways to love others, with warmth and devotion; as well as selfless love, where the other's needs are given priority. And there is the reverence we might feel towards a holy person or being. There is SO much of interest in his work, you can follow the link and find out more for yourself.


Although Brewquets Australian Valentine's Day survey in 2019 showed 77% of couples plan to celebrate Valentine's Day, with 43% buying a gift for their other half, there are many different ways to show love towards different people in our lives. Of course you can take time away with someone you care for by coming to Fosterton Retreat, or buying them a voucher (that is our business after all) BUT it doesn't have to cost anything, or much.


Maybe one of the following ways might interest you:

  • Visit them,

  • Send a text,  

  • Cook them a meal and drop it off, or have it with them,  

  • Write a short letter, a poem, or a song,

  • Create a small artwork,

  • Sing them a song,

  • Buy a card- just an attractive one, not necessarily a Valentine's Day one,  

  • Tell them about the best day you spent with them.

  • If it's someone you share a house with: run them a bath, or do one of their chores.

But, bear in mind that if the relationship has broken down- giving them space and seeking counselling for yourself can be a gift.


If you haven't yet found something to show you care, there are '87 Ways to be Kind and Loving'  on the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network website .


It is not a waste of time to show our appreciation for another person, to let them know how important they are in your world. And it doesn't have to be hard.

Bronwyn



*My book" More than Coal: Exploring Significant Natural History of the Lower Hunter Valley and Creative Ways to Love it" can be seen at the exhibition by the same name in Newcastle, NSW, in the Local History Lounge above the Newcastle Library in Laman Street, on until 14 March 2024. The book and artworks are available to buy through our website.


1 Valentine's Day, Encyclopedia Britannica online,  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day

2 Tim Lomas, "How I discovered there are (at least) 14 different kinds of love by analysing the world’s languages." The Conversation, February 13, 2018. https://theconversation.com/how-i-discovered-there-are-at-least-14-different-kinds-of-love-by-analysing-the-worlds-languages-91509  

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