In the Calendar of Saints, Feb. 14 is designated as the feast day of Saint Valentine. In addition to his role as patron saint of lovers, happy marriages and affianced couples, Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers and is invoked as a protector against plague, epilepsy and fainting. The historical identity of Valentine, however, is shrouded in myth and legend. There appear to have been a number of Valentines canonized by the Catholic Church. One of them was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269. Legend has it that he performed forbidden marriage ceremonies for Roman soldiers who, at the time, were forbidden to wed. During his imprisonment, Valentine is said to have restored his jailer’s blind daughter to sight. The legend also says that, on the night before his execution, Valentine sent his jailer’s daughter a note, which he signed, “Your Valentine.” The following day (Feb. 14), Valentine was beaten with clubs and then beheaded.
In time, the date of Valentine’s feast gelled with folk traditions and ideals of courtly love, which were spreading amongst the courts of the European nobility. By the early 14th century, English poets were writing love poetry associated with the feast of Saint Valentine. Over time, the celebration of the patron saint of romantic love was coupled with the growth of commercial and communications networks and evolved into our contemporary Valentine’s Day: a time for acknowledging those dear to one’s heart with messages of love and gifts of greeting cards, sweets and flowers.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, the custom of Valentine’s Day as an occasion for sending tokens of love to sweethearts and those secretly admired has continued to spread to the East, Middle East and Far East. It has spread so rapidly as to raise alarms in India and parts of the Islamic world, where there are efforts to stamp out Valentine’s Day as neocolonial or un-Islamic. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it is against the law to sell anything red on February 14. In Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China, on the other hand, Valentine’s Day has taken off in a big way and has developed in fascinating ways.
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day, as an occasion for small, intimate celebrations of personal romance, falls nicely between the big, family-oriented winter holidays and the springtime that lay ahead. It is a big event not only for purveyors of greeting cards (it is estimated that a billion Valentine cards are exchanged in the United States each Valentine’s Day) but it is also a boom time for chocolate makers, cut-flower dealers and sellers of fancy underpants. It is also an opportune time for couples old and new to acknowledge their couple-ness by going out on the town for a fine meal and refined beverages with maybe some music and dancing thrown in.
In our City of Destiny, there is no dearth of opportunities for places to go and things to do with your beloved this Valentine’s Day.
Here is a Valentine’s sampler of options for Tacoma’s lovers to enjoy on the feast (and days surrounding) of their patron saint:
Saturday Feb. 10, 8 a.m.
Point Ruston, 5005 Ruston Way, Tacoma
This is an out-and-back, chip-timed, 5k along Ruston Way, beginning at the park near the Point Ruston playground. Bring the kids to participate in our Valentine’s Kids Dash. Info: www.metroparkstacoma.org/valentinerun/
Valentine’s Weekend Heartbreak Party
Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 p.m.
Doyle’s Public House, 208 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
No candlelight dinner, no roses, no heart-shaped candies asking possessive questions. Just some good old fashioned music by two of Tacoma’s finest songwriters: Travis Barker (aka Smoke Perkins) from Smoke Perkins and the Bad Winter Cough, and Jordani Sarreal from Jordani & The Sun Kings. Come join the party and bring your friends to celebrate love and its heartbreaks just in time for Valentine’s Day. Info: www.facebook.com/events/1989972511275696/
Valentines for Veterans
Saturday, Feb. 10, 10 a.m.
Studio 6 Ballroom, 2608 6th Ave., Tacoma
Show veterans your gratitude for their sacrifices in serving our country. Join us as we create Valentines for Veterans. We will provide all supplies and just need your creativity. Info: www.facebook.com/events/127060851343771/
Tacoma is for Lovers Valentine’s Craft Fair
Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10 and 11, 11 a.m.
King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma
Join us at King’s Books and Destiny City Comics for our annual Valentine’s Day Craft Fair. We are excited to have some of our favorite returning vendors, as well as some new faces. We can’t wait to see you there. Info: www.kingsbookstore.com/event/craftfairfeb8
Valentine Maker Market
Saturday, Feb. 10, 10 a.m.
Blooming Kids, 3810 N. 27th St., Tacoma
Join us for this amazing event featuring new makers and some our old favorites too. Shop for your kiddos, teachers, friends, moms and significant others. We’ll truly have something for everyone. Light refreshments provided, kids always welcome. Info: www.facebook.com/bloomingkids/
Free Valentine’s Card Making
Saturday, Feb. 10, 10:30 a.m.
Artist & Craftsman Supply Tacoma, 616 St. Helens Ave., Suite 102, Tacoma
Stop by Artist & Craftsman and make a card for your cutie this Valentine’s Day. We will be providing assorted supplies for folks to make a special handmade memento for their loved one. Info: www.facebook.com/events/1100149396994189/
TMP Wine and Chocolate My Way
Sunday, Feb. 11, 4:30 p.m.
Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 6th Ave., Tacoma
Enjoy an elegant event with music, locally crafted wines, and chocolates to delight your palate. You’ll get a TMP logo wine glass to take home. Info: tmp.org
Galentine’s day at UXC
Sunday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
UrbanXchange, 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Our annual Galentine’s day is almost here. Join us in celebrating women everywhere. Enjoy rosy beverages and some sweet treats as you shop our curated racks of romantic hued vintage and designer pieces. Dance around to some live music, featuring our very own DJ Maneater. 10 percent of sales that day will be donated to Rebuilding Hope of Pierce County (http://www.sexualassaultcenter.com) Info: www.uxctacoma.com
Kids Day Workshop: Valentine’s Day Style!
Sunday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m.
Soap & Clay, 2712 6th Ave., Tacoma
In this workshop, all participants will make a full batch of bath bombs and will have the option to include heart shaped bath melts, toys, and soapy decorations inside their bombs to celebrate the season of love. Great for Valentine’s Day gifts for mom, dad, grandparents, BFFs, or just for themselves – the kiddos are going to have a blast creating their very own fizzies. Class price is $30 for each parent/child pair and $10 for each additional kiddo. All materials and instruction provided to completely customize a batch of bath bombs. Space is limited, so contact Mrs. Soap & Clay to reserve your seat. Info: www.facebook.com/events/565493893784780/
Valentine’s Day Couples’
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 9 p.m.
Puget Sound Pizza, 317 S. 7th St., Tacoma
Bring your sweet someone to Puget Sound Pizza on Valentine’s Day for an oh so romantic karaoke contest and a heart-shaped pizza combo including a bottle of wine or pitcher from Hop Valley Brewing Co. and a dessert pizza too. All for just $40. Karaoke contest is free to enter. Win fun prizes and have a lovely time. Info: www.facebook.com/events/144553612853957/
‘Say Anything’ Valentine’s Day Edition of Science on Screen
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 6:45 p.m.
The Grand Cinema, 606 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma
Grand gestures, young love and a little bit of science for thought. See the 1989 classic romantic comedy, “Say Anything,” starring John Cusack and Lone Skye at The Grand Cinema only on Valentine’s Day. There will be a brief talk about the science of how song birds attract the right partner before the film through our Science on Screen program and thanks to guest speaker, Melvin Rouse, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Puget Sound. Screenings in this series sells out, so we highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance at the box office or online.
Find tickets and more information at http://www.grandcinema.com/films/say-anything/
Valentine’s Masked Ball
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 7-9:30 p.m.
Post Hall Gallery, 1102 A St., Tacoma
Dessert, drinks and dancing! Find your fanciest formal wear, add a mask, and enjoy an elegant evening with your Valentine, dancing under the crystal chandeliers. Or find a Valentine there!
Orchestra of the Moon, a Portland-based early music band, will provide music. Peter and Mary Zarich will provide the know-how. Country dancing flourished from 1650 to 1850 as a social activity and a welcome alternative to the formality of court dancing. Easily accessible to beginners, they are danced mainly with walking steps and prompted by a caller. The repertory ranges from lively jigs and reels to elegant, flowing waltz tunes. Purchase your ticket now. Cost is $30 per person. Info: www.facebook.com/events/150638022310173/
Valentine’s Day at TAM
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 5 p.m.
Tacoma Art Museum, 1710 Pacific Ave., Tacoma
Looking for something out of the ordinary to do this Valentine’s Day? Come celebrate at Tacoma Art Museum. Explore the artwork with short gallery tours, watch the Oscar-nominated film “Loving Vincent,” snap a picture with the photo kiosk, enjoy a no-host bar, draw your sweetheart’s portrait with YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties and make Valentines in TAM Studio. As a special treat to parents, drop your children off at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and fully enjoy your date night. Members can enjoy exclusive desserts. Not a member? Join today at bit.ly/TAMmembers. Cost: Free for TAM members, $15 for non-members.
Purchase tickets online at bit.ly/TAMvdaytix.
Valentine’s Day Open
Mic Night with Karen
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 7-9 p.m.
Black Kettle Bites and Brew, 744 Market St, Tacoma
Taken? Single? It’s complicated? Come sing and play this Valentine’s Day…you might even need a new color by the end of the night. Spoken word and comedy welcome. Meet our new open mic host, Karen, and enjoy $3 select craft cans. 21+, LGBTQ friendly, no cover. Info: www.facebook.com/blackkettlebitesbrew/