Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day: A Real or Contrived Holiday?

Valentine’s Day  -- a double edged day that reflects the natural duality of this planet.

While it can be a wonderful day for lovers to renew their commitment to each other, the single community usually dreads the onslaught of the media hype that surrounds the day.

Let’s take a hard look at Valentine’s Day and its true meaning. 

Historically speaking, there are quite a few theories on its origin, and, in fact, there were three St. Valentines. One theory states that St. Valentine was a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies for soldiers and their intendeds. This was in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men who were going into battle. Claudius felt that married men naturally held an emotional attachment for their families and thus did not make good soldiers.

Bishop Valentine was also said to have formed an attachment with a young woman and, before his execution by Claudius II on February 14, 270 AD, wrote her a letter which he signed “From Your Valentine.” This phrase has lived on to this day. After that, February 14 became known as a day for lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. On this day, young Romans sent handwritten notes of affection to the women they admired. These notes were called valentines. 

It wasn’t until the 14th Century that St. Valentine’s Day, or February 14th, became definitively associated with love, for this was a day that it was believed birds mated. A UCLA medieval scholar credited Chaucer with linking St. Valentine’s Day and romance in his “The Parliament of Fowls” where he wrote, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

The holiday evolved through the centuries and eventually made its way to the shores of the American colonies. During the 1840s, Valentine’s Day became commercialized by Esther A. Howland (aka the Mother of the Valentine) when she created the first greeting cards specifically for that day. (Source: The Holiday Spot)

The “holiday” as we celebrate it today seems a bit contrived when you look at it in the light of its history. And you can say my attitude is one of Bah, Humbug, but I really don’t like the day. Why is that? Because, in truth, it is really a day perpetuated by mass marketers. After all, who are the big winners of this commercialized holiday? Not the average person but rather greeting card makers, jewelry stores, candy makers, flower stores, and an assortment of other businesses. In fact, according to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines!

I ask you, since when should saying “I love you”, with or without gifts, come only once a year – especially when you feel obligated to do so from societal pressure? In my book, if Valentine’s Day is the only day my partner can muster up the enthusiasm to express his love, it doesn’t count. To keep a loving relationship vibrant, the partners need to find ways to “I love you” in lots of different ways and every day of the year. Of course, for couples who do express their feelings throughout the year, Valentine’s Day can just be a bonus.

If you find yourself alone on this day, try not to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, feel sorry for those who scurry to make Valentine’s Day a special occasion but either ignore their partners or do not give their relationships the reverence it deserves every other day of the year. Every day is a one that you can walk and live in love. I believe it is foolish to think love expressed with candy and flowers speaks louder than every day respect and a caring attitude.

No comments:

Post a Comment