Turn to an Old Custom for a New Tradition on Valentine’s Day

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.
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Filed under Article, Building Readers, Uncategorized

17 responses to “Turn to an Old Custom for a New Tradition on Valentine’s Day

  1. Roseann Murphy

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing such a lovely tradition. I will begin this tradition in my family this month and forever…it is so very special. I love your blog…

    • notjustcute

      It is a fun one! I think my favorite part may be the notes my husband writes me on the inside of the cover. The year after we started this tradition in our home, my mom asked if I wanted to pick a book from my deceased grandparents’ library. One of the first ones I opened had a sweet Valentine note written inside the cover from my grandpa to my grandma. That’s when I knew for certain that this tradition was for us! (And of course, that’s the book I selected to keep!)

  2. I absolutely love this idea! I think we will be implementing it this year. I too, could care less for the boxes of chocolates and cheap teddy bears I see in the stores. I tradition my dad had for us kids growing up was to simply give us each a V-day gift from him, whether it was balloons, flowers, a jewelry box, a toy. This meant alot of me especially as I hit those teen years.

  3. I think this means I’m up to two really great ideas! We still love this tradition. I love the photo you found to go with it—I may have to try to duplicate that.

  4. Two years ago, we spent two months there and enjoyed St. George’s Day (I believe that was the name of the day). And, what was exchanged was this: the girl gave the boy a rose and the boy gave the girl a book! I loved that even more!! The streets had some vendors selling both. It is indeed a nice way to express care and love. The more we can help children escape the commercialization of everything, I believe the better. (And whatever happened to pink and red paper, paper doilies, glue and a few markers!?)

  5. We’ve been doing this since our oldest was born! Mostly, it started because I am somewhat addicted to buying good books for cheap (Thank You Half Price Books and Garage Sales!). More than a little boy realistically needs to be getting on a daily/weekly basis. So I save them until I can find a reason to give them to him, which happens to be Valentine’s Day (and any other established or random holiday)! I do like the part about my husband getting ME a book! I’ll have to share that part with him!

  6. This is a great idea…a wonderful tradition to begin. Now I’m off to find some great books.

  7. What a fantastic idea! Definitely something I am going to add to our Valentine’s Day tradition. We usually do homemade valentines and a special breakfast in the morning. And if we can get a babysitter (aka my mom), my husband and I go out to eat.

  8. this is wonderful, thank you!

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  10. Love this! My mom and I started this years and years ago (over a decade now!) and have I have moved it to my own family now. Valentine’s has actually become my favorite gift giving holidays because of books…and we add socks. Quirky…not really Spanish (I never knew about that link till now!) – more likely born of the fact that mom and I were living in cold Pennsylvania. Truly one of my favorite traditions. Thanks for the post!

  11. Beth

    What a great idea! Thanks for the reminder that love doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. My husband and I have a book buying tradition at Christmas (buy a new Christmas book per year to create a growing holiday library), so your tradition could be a nice addition to our Valentine’s celebrations. And as an English teacher, I’m always eager to encourage book-love in my two-year-old daughter. (Trains, ducks, pigs, purple, babies, or Jesus would be her topics of choice this V-day.)

  12. Pingback: Simplify: Valentine’s Gifts « TanGreen

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