Do You Think That Romance Is Dead?

Do You Think That Romance Is Dead?

18/02/21 / Keyword: romance

ECP Coach John talks about romance, the role that St. Valentine’s Day has played throughout history and answers the question, are the British really so cold and unromantic?  

Click HERE to download the Weekly English Practice as a PDF.

Useful vocabulary

to fancy: to like someone in a sexual, romantic way

cheesy: cheap and of low quality or poor taste 

lament: an expression of grief or sorrow

be-time: in good time (Old English)

daring: adventurous, audacious

racy: exciting and slightly sexual

prudish: easily shocked or offended by sexual matters

saucy: cheeky and impertinent

tenderness: affection, gentleness and kindness

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

ECP Coach John talks about romance, the role that St. Valentine’s Day has played throughout history and answers the question, are the British really so cold and unromantic? 

Last Sunday was Saint Valentine’s Day, an event that provokes strongly contrasting opinions. We’ve all heard the unfavourable, stereotypical comparison between the supposedly hot and romantic Latin lovers and the cold, unfeeling British. But how true is this? A look at the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the UK may make you think again.

My experience of Valentine’s Day here in the Basque Country is that it is basically a Corte Ingles consumer ‘fiesta’ for already existing couples who exchange gifts and maybe go for dinner. Meanwhile, in the UK it is much more romantic and is focused on single people looking for love.

On Valentine’s Day, you are allowed to declare your love for that special someone you have fancied for a while, but were perhaps too shy to tell them. Confessions of love can be seen in British newspapers, local magazines and on Facebook.

The traditional way is to send an anonymous, unsigned card with a verse and clue about who the sender is. Here is a typical, cheesy example:

    “Roses are red,    

    Violets are blue,    

    Honey is sweet.    

    And so are you!”    

By 1601, St. Valentine’s Day appears to have become an established part of English tradition, as William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in his play, Hamlet:

    “To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,     

    All in the morning be-time,     

    And I a maid at your window,     

    To be your Valentine.”  

The anonymity aspect of being able to send your Valentines’s Day cards was responsible for introducing daring and racy verse to the otherwise prudish Victorians. Today, Valentine’s Day verses are often saucy, and cynical too.

    “Roses are red,    

    Violets are blue,    

   But I wouldn’t know that,    

   Because you never bring me flowers.  

   You bastard! “   

Flowers are also a must-have gift for Valentine’s Day; a symbol of sympathy, tenderness and love.

The commercial aspect of the celebrations increases every year, with gifts of chocolates, flowers and even jewellery now being expected to accompany the simple St. Valentine’s Day card.

However, Valentine’s Day can be traumatic, especially for teenagers. I well remember going to school on 14th February and being asked, “How many cards did you get?” Not getting any would make you feel unloved and worthless. 

In these difficult pandemic times, when people are separated, it is best not to be too cynical about St. Valentine’s Day. I leave the final word to Erich Fromm who was featured in a previous WEP.

“If two people who have been strangers, as all of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life.”


Written by ECP coach John Hird

Let’s chat about romance!

  1. According to ‘Valentine’s Day Facts’ (page 2) what is the origin of the festival?
  2. What are the differences between SVD here and the UK?
  3. Have you ever sent an anonymous Valentine’s card or flowers?
  4. What are your favourite romantic songs?
  5. Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? 
  6. Finish the poem: “Roses are red, Violets are blue…

Take a moment to look at these related articles!

Romantic Stories For Valentine’s Day

A Good Read: The Art of Loving

WB Yeats: The 20th Century’s greatest poet?

Leave A Comment