As Valentine’s Day approaches our hotel in Surrey, we turn our minds back to days gone by, when romance wasn’t quite what it is nowadays…
Here at one of the most delightful hotels Surrey has to offer, we cannot wait for the most romantic day of the year to arrive. In the spirit of the season, we have done a little digging and found out how our ancestors might have shown their affection for one another. A little romantic inspiration, perhaps…?
The pagan precursor to what we now know as St Valentine’s Day, was a Roman festival called Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a festival of fertility and involved the sacrifice of two goats and a dog, which would latterly be skinned, the skin cut into strips and dipped in the sacrificial blood. The men of the town would then run through the streets lightly ‘whipping’ the women with their macabre rags. This was thought to bestow fertility upon the women. Delightful.
In 19th century Austria, young debutantes attending dances would keep a slice of apple tucked tightly under their armpit. When the dance finished, the lovely ladies would offer up the stinking slice to the gentleman of their choice. If the feeling was mutual, he’d gobble down the sweaty offering and that would be that. Bizarre.
In puritan New England, fathers would watch their daughters with hawk-like attentiveness. So, in order to evade the watchful gaze of puritanical fathers, young men developed the ‘courting stick’. The courting stick was a tube used to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of young ladies, without the whispers being decoded by dad. The eighteenth century equivalent of encrypted messages, we think we prefer smartphones to courting sticks…
In Victorian England a lustful gent would often send his beloved a pair of gloves as a token of his affections. If she wore them to church on Sunday, that was it, they were betrothed. Be careful who you accept gloves from, it might be more of a loaded gift than you first thought…
Hitting the Sack
Another 18th century marvel was the practice of premarital bed sharing. Shocked? Don’t jump to conclusions… In an effort to encourage betrothed couples to get to know each other, they would be allowed to share a bed… Once they were both sewn into cloth sacks and a wooden divide had been placed between them, that is. Ah, young love!
When it comes to your Valentine’s celebrations this year, we get the feeling that clammy fruit and whispering down tubes won’t really cut the mustard, so perhaps a stay at our superb hotel in Surrey would suit a little better? The Mitre, Hampton Court is ideally located for walks along the Thames and sampling the delights of Bushy Park, followed by a scrumptious meal in one of the finest restaurants in Hampton Court. Book direct or call us on 0208 979 99 88 for more information.