We interrupt the regularly scheduled posts to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day.
No, I really do wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with a holiday dedicated to love, especially if you view it like my family does. In my family it was always a holiday to celebrate love of every kind, not just romantic love. Love is a good thing, which I firmly believe we should celebrate. Still, there’s a few problems with this holiday, of course.
First, there’s the commercialization. Now, this plagues just about every (American) holiday, so it isn’t exactly a problem specific to Valentine’s day. It does seem that the capitalist markets of the world (or America) have latched onto this one in a particularly parasitic way. And like any good parasite, capitalism is slowly killing the holiday. Many people see the essential hollowness of the “Commercial” Holiday, and become disenchanted with it. Rather than looking for a deeper meaning behind the commercialism, they simply write it off and cease to celebrate. And I certainly can’t blame them. It really is quite hollow if you don’t give it some personal, deeper meaning. Perhaps a tradition of reserving the day as a “date night” for you and your sweet-heart* or perhaps a family outing day. The point is, the rat-race of getting the “perfect, most romantic gift ever, better than last year” is not only missing the point of celebrating love, it’s also moderately disgusting.
My second issue is that Valentine’s Day as we celebrate it in modern times is entirely a made-up holiday. There are actually a couple of St. Valentines, and one of them has a feast-day on February 14th. And nothing more is known of him except the location of his burial in Rome. He isn’t the patron saint of anything, and especially not lovers (a fascinating Wikipedia article about the various St.’s Valentine is here). We can blame this fascination with lovers either on Chaucer, or the 15th Century French, depending on which theory you subscribe to. Either way, there is no particular association with the Saint(s) and we would be every bit as justified in calling it ‘Hallmark Day’ or ‘Guilt-trip Day’.
In any case, I neither subscribe to the blatant commercialism nor the outright hatred. My husband and I will be spending our first married Valentine’s Day quietly. I’ll make spaghetti and garlic bread (that’s a romantic meal, right?) and I’ve been promised we’ll also watch Disney’s ‘Lady and the Tramp’ (which is why spaghetti is romantic!) together. Other than that we’ll proceed like any other normal Sunday, sitting in the same room but primarily following our own pursuits. All of these things are not special to Valentine’s Day, only to us, and don’t require a holiday to make them so. But I don’t mind a specific holiday adding a little extra zest to it, either.
* It should be noted that a “Date” for a couple doesn’t necessarily mean the nicest restaurant. A movie, or a walk in the park among others are viable options. Just try to live in a warm climate if you contemplate the walk in the park option!
Thought for the Week: “True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked” Erich Segal
Currently Reading: Ancient Epistolary Fictions by Patricia A. Rosenmeyer