Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Less Than A Month Away

What is it? The Super Bowl? No, but I will be watching that. The Daytona 500? No, but that begins the long season of NASCAR racing my husband and I enjoy. A birthday or anniversary? No, they are all behind us for now. It's Valentine's Day! Many of you, as you read the words, shuddered, cringed, swore, or stopped reading. But my goal is to change your perspective on this day unfairly attributed to "card stores, candy manufacturers, florists, and jewelers making money off of some damn day I'm told to be romantic". No, my dear readers, Valentine's Day is so much more and it is time to start celebrating it wholly and completely.

My love affair with Valentine's Day dates back to a time before I can remember. My parents were (and are) wildly in love with one another throughout most of their college days. By February of their senior year they knew they wanted to spend their lives together. He was Jewish, she was Lutheran, and they lived in 1963. So, to avoid any friction they simply called their friends to witness, put on their best clothes hanging in their closet, and married one another - eloped - on Valentine's Day 1963. That is the stuff of romance. In my home, I, being the youngest of three children and the only girl, was surrounded by love, warmth, good feelings, and the notion that Valentine's Day was a sacred day of love. My parents, married 48 years next month, are a testament to Valentine's Day and all it stands.

As with a lot of ancient history, there is no clear cut story to pinpoint on the origins of St. Valentine and his namesake day. But, a widely believed one is the following:  In 3rd Century Rome Emperor Claudius II came to believe that single men made much better soldiers than men with wives and children. This led Claudius to brazenly outlaw marriage for young men, the group he'd need to make soldiers! Seeing the absurdity and injustice, Valentine, a priest, secretly married young lovers. When he was discovered, Claudius had Valentine thrown in jail and ordered him put to death. Legend has it that Valentine himself sent the first valentine when he wrote a letter to a young woman he had fallen in love from his cell, his jailor's daughter perhaps, and signed the letter, "From your Valentine".

From Roman origins to its popularity over the centuries throughout Europe, the observance and importance of Valentine's Day has been shown through small tokens of affection and hand-written notes. Since the early 18th Century Americans have been exchanging valentines, and, thanks to reasonable postage rates and the mass-produced greeting cards, valentine sending and Valentine's Day itself remains an ever-popular, renowned and lucrative holiday steeped in long tradition.

Humbug you say? I say you need to be a part of Valentine's hoopla! Although most think of Valentine's Day as a day solely for romantic lovers, it truly is for anyone you love and want to honor/tell. From parents to children, friends to mentors, teachers to students, and service people to neighbors, everyone enjoys receiving a valentine and knowing they mean something special to someone.

Can't find the mood? Make the mood. Decorate your space with construction paper hearts, crepe paper, and balloons with hearts on them. Buy or bake heart-shaped cookies, a heart-shaped box of candy, or a heart-shaped cake. Wear red, a tie with hearts all over it, or a pin in a heart-shape. Make valentines or buy the school valentines for a nominal price and send a valentine to everyone in your office, social network, or neighborhood. Send an entire box to your lover, one at a time, for the days leading up to Valentine's Day. Buy yourself some sexy underwear with hearts on it for your lover to uncover. Send your lover a flower for each year (month, week, or day) you've known each other. Have the money? Have a piece of jewelry made (or find one) that has the birthstone of the month you and your wife were married. Or the month you met. Or the birthstones of each of you. Or of the whole family! Or simply buy something with hearts to express how much you love her.

Winter can be dreary. Having Valentine's Day to decorate,  plan, and look forward with it's red hot colors, intensity of emotion, and elements of surprise and sincerity keeps me going. I can't be alone - check out the stores! Yes, yes, it is all a commercial racket. So what? What isn't a commercial racket in our culture? But the fact is, Valentine's Day is a fantastic way to make people pause and tell those they love, "I love you". I don't see anything wrong with that. Still not convinced? Then we'll have to spend more time on this topic as the days and weeks progress to one of my favorite days of the year - Valentine's Day.


  1. Stephen and I were engaged on Feb. 13th.

    On the 14th of every month we see who can say, "Happy Valentine's Day (observed)" the fastest. :)

    I get 12 Valentine's Days!

  2. Must be time to get that weeks work down the bottom of the nearest coal mine again ! :-)

  3. When I was married, it was too soon after the holidays that I had another delemma to hurdle. Don't get me wrong I like valentines day, but I would really like for it to be during the summer months where there's more to do.