By Sky Wilson, contributor
After the challenges of the last year, Valentine’s Day 2021 takes on a little different meaning — whether that’s breaking out of the quarantine doldrums, taking advantage of local businesses’ creative offerings or making the effort to underscore just how much a special-someone matters.
“Couples are hugging each other a little longer these days,” said Jennie Rosier, associate professor of Communication Studies at JMU and director of The Relationships, Love, & Happiness Project.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on many couples’ daily lives, according to Dr. Rosier, but she also notes that plenty of people are finding novel opportunities to connect with and appreciate their partners amidst the upheaval.
For couples struggling with new circumstances, changed routines or the claustrophobia of staying home for 11 months, Rosier gave The Citizen several pieces of advice:
- Change your perspective. “Take the perspective of your partner and empathize with how they’re experiencing the pandemic,” she explained.
- Continue to give each other “a little more grace and a little more understanding.”
- Tell your partner what you have appreciated in them over the past several months. Remember: “It hasn’t been easy for anyone.”
As Valentine’s Day approaches, couples might use the weekend as a time of excitement, rekindling romance or finding a dedicated time to celebrate their connection.
Rosier said couples can — and should — use Valentine’s Day to take stock of what’s important in their lives and let the people they love know that they love them. Partners should focus on making their other half feel loved, accepted, and understood, she said.
“I have, forever, advocated that Valentine’s Day should be less about grandiose gestures. It should be more about ‘Hey, this is why I love you and this is why I appreciate you,’ and saying these things out loud to each other,” she said.
For instance, write your partner a love letter or discuss the specific characteristics you appreciate about them over a shared meal, whether that’s in a restaurant or, alternatively, take-out or a home-cooked dinner.
“Having those conversations is much more beneficial than any fancy date night and it will be more memorable too,” Rosier said.
Harrisonburg residents also can use Valentine’s Day as a way to support our local businesses.
Restaurants and businesses downtown and beyond are offering couples various ways to celebrate this year, including fancy take-home meals, sugary treats, flower arrangements and drink pairings.
“Putting together an amazing celebration of love with an assist from our local businesses is a great way to not only make this a Valentine’s Day to remember, but help make sure your favorite downtown spots have a strong start to 2021,” said Jeslyn Stiles, director of marketing for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.
As The Citizen’s early Valentine’s gift to you, here’s a list of events and specials happening around Harrisonburg this week to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Magpie Diner will host a Parisian themed brunch on both Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday Feb. 14. The menu has yet to be announced. (Magpie is also celebrating Black History Month with food inspired by local black women community leaders, such as Mayor Deanna Reed.)
Food-truck-turned-sit-down restaurant Mashita has Valentine’s Day Meal Kits that allows customers to bring home a three-course Korean meal. The kits cost $28 per person. Gluten-free and vegan options are available. The deadline to order is Thursday, Feb. 11. The restaurant will be closed on Valentine’s Day so meals must be picked up on Feb. 12 or 13.
Montpelier Restaurant, located inside of Hotel Madison, will offer ready-to-go heart-shaped pizzas for dine-in and curbside pickup all weekend. Inside the restaurant, they will also have a special Valentine’s Day menu available.
Rocktown Kitchen will offer specials, including Chilean sea bass and a chocolate sin cake for dessert. Reservations are required for in-person dining. Specials will also be available for carryout.
Vito’s Italian Kitchen has a Little Italy Valentine’s Dinner meal kit on offer “with everything you’ll need for a romantic, effortless Italian evening at home.” Pick-up is available from 2-4 p.m. Feb. 10-14.
SWEETS AND DESSERTS
Small batch bakery Bittersweet Bakery has a selection of goodies available, including a “Sweetheart Cake for 2,” French macarons, and heart-shaped sugar cookies. For those not feeling the love this year, there’s also an Anti-Valentine Tart inscribed with a “cheeky phrase.” Orders must be placed online in advance for pick-up Feb. 12 or 13. The bakery will be open for walk-ups on Sunday, Feb. 14.
El Paisano Bakery on Wolfe Street will also be open on Valentine’s Day from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. and is planning to have extra goodies ready to go for anyone in need of a last-minute order. Orders can also be placed in advance by calling ahead.
For $25, Shirley’s offers two bags of their gourmet popcorn in Valentine-themed flavors, gift-wrapped in a classic black box and red ribbon.
Bella Gelato & Pastries is offering a Valentine’s Day variety box full of seasonal treats and Bella favorites. Customers can pick three baked treats for $28 or five for $45 and add a pint of any flavor gelato for just $5. Those interested should call the shop, email or place an order in person at the shop on Water Street. The deadline for orders is Feb. 11 or whenever the treats are sold out.
DRINKS AND MORE
The jewelers at Hugo Kohl will be running a sale Feb. 11-13. The sale includes 30% off of everything in the boutique as well as 30% off everything on the website and Facebook store with the code “2021valentine” at checkout. Some exclusions apply.
On Feb. 13 and 14, Bluetique guests will have the option to draw a Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day discount, offering them up to 30% off their purchase.
Ten Thousand Villages is celebrating with a ‘Buy One Get One 50% Off’ sale storewide from Feb. 11-14.
Sparrows Floral Designs is offering a variety of Valentine-inspired bouquets alongside special add-ons, such as Valentine’s Day cards, a box of sweets from Heritage Bakery and locally-made Apalache Chocolate bars. Gifts can be picked up in store or delivered locally.
Walkabout Outfitters is offering customers the chance to win a $25 gift card with a guessing game in store Feb. 10-14.
Locally-based clean beauty brand withSimplicity is offering a selection of curated gift bundles as well as a “Bellas Before Fellas Galentine’s Gift Set” which includes a bath bomb and rejuvenating mask.
In Bridgewater, Bluestone Vineyard also has chocolate and wine pairings for either the sweet or dry wine drinker. A set includes four 2oz. bottles of wine and a box of chocolates made by Warfels Chocolates of Dayton. A single pairing set is $20.
CrossKeys Vineyard in Mt. Crawford is offering pre-selected chocolate and wine pairings all week long. For $40 for two or $25 for an individual, customers will receive a wine flight of four wines paired with four chocolatey desserts from the vineyard’s executive chef. The vineyard will host a Valentine’s Day brunch Sunday and will offer extended hours all weekend.
The Friendly Fermenter is releasing a couple of annual Valentine’s Day beers this week: a “Bee Mine” Honey Blonde, and the “Passionwit Kisses” Passion Fruit Tart. They will be on special on Feb. 14.
Sagebird Ciderworks is releasing a new apple brandy-barrel aged cherry cider called Brandied Cherry on Valentine’s Day. All weekend, the cidery will offer a Lovebirds package which includes a bottle or traveler of cider to-go, two Sage Bird branded glasses and a chocolate bar. On Saturday, local realtor and photographer Amelia Schmidt will be at the taproom doing 5 minute photo booth sessions. Sagebird is also offering 10% off to-go orders on Saturday and Sunday, plus a special of 20% off to-go orders with the purchase of a glass of cider on Sunday for those who’d rather take their drinks home.
On Sunday, from noon-4 p.m., Three Notch’d Valley Collab House will host a beer release event alongside Chestnut Ridge Coffee Roasters. Their new beer is the Chestnut Ridge Irish Coffee Stout and uses the roaster’s popular El Salvador Roast. Both coffee and beer will be on sale as well as an exclusive growler design.
Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance has compiled some of the happenings on this list and more here.
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