Valentine’s Day has never really been my favorite. I’m no Valentine’s Grinch, I’ve just always been stumped by the traditional gift choices.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy chocolate, but there’s only so much a body can take. Flowers are nice, but I always prefer to get them as a surprise rather than an obligatory bouquet. Neither of those really works for my husband, and while marketers have assured me nothing would say “I love you” like a new iPad, that’s not exactly in the budget. And what do you get for the kids? There’s not much room left in their junk drawer to accommodate another googly-eyed pencil topper or plastic trinket.
Then a friend of mine shared a fantastic family tradition. Apparently, in Spain (where she lived for a time), the holiday for lovers is known as the day of the book and the rose. Though held in April, this holiday is similar to Valentine’s Day, in that it is set-aside for expressing love. But as the name implies, the custom on this holiday is for couples to exchange flowers and books. BOOKS! Now there’s something meaningful I can get behind! Not only is it something within a manageable price range and something worth keeping around for more than a few days, it’s also a gift that feels much more personal than something cliché from the seasonal aisle of the nearest store.
Since my husband and I both love books, a love we’ve worked to share with our children, we’ve decided to make this a tradition in our own home as well. So now, each Valentine’s Day, we select a book for each other, as well as books for each of our children. Sometimes the book choice expresses love (I Love You Stinky Face is one of my favorites for kids), reflects an interest the recipient is passionate about (our three boys are getting books about ninjas, dinosaurs, and outer space this year), or it may be a way of recognizing and supporting someone’s goals (my husband is often keen to tie my book in with one of my New Year’s resolutions). And of course, there’s always room for books that are just plain fun to read!
We serve up our books alongside a special breakfast like toast cut in heart shapes and topped with raspberry jam, a simple treat my boys go crazy for. If you’re feeling more gourmet, try out something like Cinnamon Baked French Toast or Homemade Cinnamon Bread served with a breakfast smoothie, all from the Pioneer Woman.
Try out this old custom as a new tradition at your house!
What other Valentine’s Day traditions are among your favorites?
Top photo by Piotr Bizior.