It is strange to think that Valentine's Day was a popular holiday being celebrated in the times of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The world of the Sherlockian Canon certainly seems to be having none of it. And most of us fully-grown folk are a bit jaded and cynical about the thing in any case, except for those ladies still using it to extort jewelry and flowers out of their vic . . . menfolk, so it's no great loss to the average Sherlockian. Our ladies are much more gracious than that, to be sure.
But sometimes, it helps to have something else to celebrate on those occasions that Hallmark would try to tell us which emotions we should be feeling. So, my fellow jaded and cynical members of the Sherlockian cult, I offer you Valentine's Day.
Colonel Valentine Walter's Day. The new February 14th.
A "very tall, handsome, light-bearded man of fifty," Valentine died after two years in prison following his encounter with Sherlock Holmes. Whether or not that was part of an easier sentence, as Mycroft Holmes implied he might get for cooperating, we cannot know. Outside of pastiche, Valentine was the only criminal ever to be caught with the help of Mycroft Holmes (and G. Lestrade for good measure -- a Canonical tie to Mycroft/Lestrade fanfic, if ever there was one!).
Valentine Walter was also one of the few criminals to foil Sherlock Holmes even as he was caught.
"You can write me down as an ass this time, Watson," Holmes said when Valentine fell into his trap. "This was not the bird that I was looking for." Perhaps it was the presence of his older, smarter brother that caused such an honest moment in Sherlock, as he could have easily feigned Valentine's capture was all part of his plan . . . were he not under the keen eye of Mycroft at that very moment.
Now, given all these facts about the subject of our new Valentine's Day, I'm sure you're wondering how you should be celebrating it, especially as only a few days remain to prepare. Well, there is one way that suggests itself, given to us by what Sherlock Holmes got out of his encounter with non-saintly Valentine.
"Some weeks afterwards," Watson writes, "I learned incidentally that my friend spent a day at Windsor, whence he returned with a fine emerald tie-pin. When I asked him if he had bought it, he answered that it was a present from a certain gracious lady . . . ."
There you go: Valentine's Day, Sherlockian-style, is a day for gentlemen to receive gifts from certain gracious ladies. And nothing says "gracious" like an emerald tie-pin.
Three shopping days left!