By Hayley Axford
In most countries, February 14th is annually observed as Saint Valentine’s Day. While many Christian Saints have laid claim to this day, the most popular account gives credit to Saint Valentine of Rome. He is believed to have been imprisoned for performing wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Before his execution, St Valentine allegedly wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter and signed it as ‘Your Valentine’. Other sources state that the customs of the day originated from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia, known as the ‘festival of sexual license’. This in honour of Lupercus, the god of fertility and husbandry.
In today’s society, many feel that Valentine’s Day is merely a marketing gimmick that encourages materialism. Others relish in the commercial aspect of it, however, with emphasis placed on the tokens given to express their love for their partners, such as flowers, greeting cards and chocolates. Fun fact: it is estimated that 257 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day in 2014. Furthermore, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually.
With Eskom’s ongoing electricity crisis, social media is abuzz with memes that mock the power utility’s failure to keep the lights on. One such meme states that South Africa has been voted as the most romantic country in the world, because we eat dinner by candlelight, nearly every night. With Valentine’s Day approaching, perhaps Eskom will play Cupid, implementing sporadic loadshedding so that we may rediscover the current between us and our loved ones.
The romanticism of candles dates back to 1600’s to 1800’s, where courting candles were used to determine the length of time that couples had to spend together. When a daughter’s suitor came to visit, her father would light a candle in the room where the couple would sit and then leave them alone to converse. As soon as the candle burnt down to the metal of the candlestick holder, time was up and the date was over.
As rolling blackouts continue throughout the country, South Africans have been forced out of their comfort zones, often having to revert to the simplistic way of life experienced before our technological advances. Even with a house full of appliances and gadgets, they are rendered useless to us without electricity. As frustrating as this may be, it encourages us to spend more time with family and friends, and less time operating machines and staring into screens.
To avoid having your Valentine’s Day held ransom by Eskom’s power issues, it is advisable that you consult a loadshedding schedule
before making any solid plans. Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so think of more creative ways to enjoy the day and night by engaging in activities that are electricity-free; whether or not loadshedding has been scheduled.
Here is a list of possible things to do with your partner that could add a spark to your love life:
- Take a walk along the beach. Instead of giving each other greeting cards, write a love note in the sand and leave it there for the waves to wash away.
- Take a scenic drive. Pack a picnic basket with snacks and a bottle of wine and find a spot to lay down a blanket on the grass and watch the sun set.
- If there is loadshedding in your area, have a candlelit dinner at home. Think of finger foods that don’t require electricity to prepare. You can also use battery-operated fairy lights (available at any discount Chinese shop) to add to the ambience. Alternatively, you can have a braai in your garden.
- Visit a restaurant with a generator. Should you require fine dining for your date, there are a number of restaurants that have generators to ensure that they remain open during power cuts. Download the Eat Out app or visit their website for a countrywide list of these eateries.
- If you do have electricity that night and have access to a projector, create your own open air cinema. Project a classic film from your laptop onto a wall in your backyard. Switch off the lights, place beanbags and cushions for comfort. Have snacks and drinks on hand.
- At night, take your loved one and find a place to sit from an elevated position, with a view of your city. This could be on top of a mountain or the rooftop of a tall building. From there, you will be able to see the patterns of light and darkness from areas that are affected by loadshedding and those that are not.
Roses are red, violets are blue, loadshedding sucks, this much is true.