Above: Vivienne Westwood has designed a box of chocolates for the special St Valentine's Day catalogue for London store Fortnum & Mason.
Today is St Valentine's Day. This year the day seems to be used in marketing campaigns more than ever, including a full page ad for Liberty in today's Guardian. Possibly this is the most commercial St Valentine's Day yet.
Is this just the relentless onward march of commercialism?
Or is there are more subtle trend at work?
Professor Ronald Hutton, in his great work The Ritual Year, noticed that there is a tendency for the great public celebrations of the past (Christmas, Easter etc) to become absorbed into household life and become private family events, celebrating specific sections of the family (in the case of St Valentine's Day young lovers are being celebrated). As "Society" jettisons the religious observances of the past it seems that individuals and families are taking up responsibility to mark the ritual days of the year (assisted by commercial goods and services). Are they doing this consciously and willingly or unconsciously and instinctively?