The origins of Valentine’s Day have been lost to ancient myth, urban tall tales and wishful thinking.
There are as many versions of the Valentine story as there are different types of love that exist in the human psyche. This raw emotion goes way beyond red velvet, chocolate boxes and teddy bears with heart-shaped eyes.
The most popular legend claims that the Roman emperor Claudius II forbade his soldiers from marriage fearing their phallic spears would distract the army from the metal, flinty killing kind. Apparently, a priest named Valentine secretly performed weddings in defiance of the emperor’s cold heart and was beheaded for his troubles. While in prison he wrote a farewell letter to his love, the daughter of his jailer, signed “Your Valentine.” Perhaps he dotted the eyes with a little heart too. Rumour has it he used violets to make the ink, making Renko’s signature colour an even truer symbol of sincerity and passion.
Nonetheless, the name Valentine was a trendy hipster choice in the days of yore and rather a lot of Valentines were canonised and beheaded as martyrs. The vibrant red associated with February 14th may be less connected to Roman goddess Venus’s love for roses and more a collective historical memory of a gruesome period of spilt blood.
Unsurprisingly it is the Victorians who can be blamed for turning the celebration of St Valentines into the sentimental, sickly episode that has given us all too many cavities. This particular holiday is like a high maintenance friend: be it lovers in their first flush, couples in the slipper stage of married life or single people spitting as they pass Hallmark displays of the uber cute – we all feel the pressure to perform (pun most definitely intended).
It would be a shame to let such flaws distract us from honouring a human emotion that unites us all, be it in pain or ecstasy. Love is the epitome of the human condition and deserves our respect.
And if that gives us an excuse to eat chocolate and trade gifts, then bring it on. Certainly, take heed from those Valentine martyrs and don’t go losing your head over your latest crush.
So what are Renko’s team most ardent desires?
1. Eva Sonaike’s Ojo range is inspired by the views from open verandas in Nigeria’s tropical settings – it’s practically painting the backdrop for an “Out of Africa” romantic vibe.
2. Esra Demircan’s art entitled Love & Passion – The image is as evocative and enticing as its title.
3. Devrim Erbil’s limited edition “Birds of Istanbul” – His love for Istanbul is constant and true. He also believes “birds are the rhythm of life [which] bring along…music”. So set those metaphysical violins play the rhythm of passion.
4. Perhaps, a stunning Turkish coffee set for two from historical coffee experts Ozerlat – Turkish Tradition demands that brides test their future spouses by putting salt in his coffee rather than sugar. How he responds will indicate his character. Warning: This could turn your Valentine’s Day into a bust if he spits it in your face.
5. Mamm + Myrgh’s silver seaweed choker inspired by 19th century Pre-Raphaelite painting ‘The Mermaid”. Historical myth and melodrama, the passion of the sea and the merest suggestion of 50 shades choker. All wrapped in one beautiful jewellery gift.
We could go on and on, but it is clear Renko embraces love in all its forms and nuances. Our gifts could never be mistaken for a clichéd piece of tat from the supermarket Valentine aisle.
1. Eva Sonaike
2. Esra Meral
3. Devrim Erbil
5. Mamm + Myrgh
Copyright by Sonia Picker