By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Valentine’s Day grabs the hearts of people all around the globe, and here at the Jersey Shore it’s no different.
Area restaurants and shops have responded to the call for romance by making it a special day for those in love, falling in love or hoping to fall in love.
But first a brief history of the romantic holiday and why we continue to celebrate it.
The day is named in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome who legend has it was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians during the days of the Roman Empire.
“According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed ‘Your Valentine’ as a farewell,” according to Wikipedia.
The cultural tradition of sending cards and letters continues as well as the celebration of a feast day in honor of St. Valentine in many church traditions.
Our modern day traditions appear to have originated in England according to Wikipedia.
“The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as ‘valentines’).”
Area restaurants and retailers have lovers in mind this week as they participate in this centuries old tradition.
At Bradley Beach’s The Stockroom, a men’s clothier on Main Street and it’s affiliate modern general store on Second Avenue, visitors can shop for their valentines on Sun., Feb. 11 from noon to 6 p.m. While shopping for a few of their favorite things they can celebrate the day with a variety of tastings and free gift wrapping.
The stores are located at 625 Second Ave. and 122 to 124 Main Street.
The Present gift shop in Bradley Beach is offering Valentine’s thank you gifts to customers on Sun. Feb. 11 from noon to 4 p.m. in the form of a discount on merchandise, a raffle for a gift certificate and something to sip while you shop.
The shop is located at 706 LaReine Ave.
The Asbury Park Wall Lodge No. 128 is hosting an evening of Romance and Renewal on Feb. 17 with the Not So New Newlywed Game.
The event will include dinner, music by DJ Travis and prizes.
Seating is limited and tickets are $30 per person.
There will be a renewal ceremony for all who want to re-commit themselves to their significant other.
The lodge is located at 3409 West Bangs Avenue in Neptune.
The Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten on Lake Avenue is commemorating St. Valentine on Valentine’s Day with Bubbles & Bier, offering half price bottles of champagne and a prix fixe dinner for two from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Dinner, which is $29 in the Halle and $35 in a rooftop igloo, includes one pretzel, one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert. Seafood and sauerbraten dishes cost an additional $3.
Free portraits with Valory, and a pop up flower stand by AP Greenery will be on site with bouquets available in advance and on Valentine’s Day delivered to the table upon request.
Applebee’s, located in Ocean Township and Tinton Falls, is offering select bottles of wine offered at half price from Feb. 12 to 16.
They will pair perfectly with its 2 for $20 menu, which includes one appetizer and two entrees and is available all day, every day.
The Asbury Hotel, near the city’s beachfront, is hosting a brunch at noon with the “Golden Gays” Valentine’s drag brunch at 1 p.m. on Sun., Feb. 11.
Buy tickets at goldenvalentinesgay.
Kim Marie’s Eat ’n Drink away on Kingsley Street in Asbury Park is hosting a Valentine’s Day dinner for two which includes two each of appetizers, dinners and desserts. All for $80.
UVA’s in Bradley Beach is continuing its tradition of treating Valentine diners to a complimentary champaign toast and flowers, which is sure to put them in the mood for romance. The regular menu will be served from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Valentine’s Day.
Mr. C’s in Allenhurst is offering a dinner for two for $55 which includes a bottle of wine.
And if you are looking to meet the right person and also have some fun- then you might think about going to Johnny Mac House of Spirits on Main Street in Asbury Park. The bar has been hosting a monthly Speed Dating event on Wednesday once a month for years- but this year, since it falls on Valentine’s Day, it will something extra-special.
In addition to Date Night, which is free, the bar will be offering its “Valentine’s Day Carnival” beginning at 9 p.m. In addition to the Speed Dating, there is will be caricatures by the bar’s in-house artist Adelle Marcero, glitter tattoo and body art at the Sparkle Bar, and psychic/tarot card reading by Linda Fate.
In speed dating, men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short “dates”- usually lasting from three to eight minutes- and then they move on to the next “date.” At the end, each participant submits the name of who they like and, if there is a match, there is a skee ball competition to see who will win a restaurant gift certificate to share with their “date.”
And as always some of the best Ocean views in the area, which always seem to ramp up the romance.