Valentine's Day: Does Candy Really Prove Love?
Celebrating Valentine's Day Over the Years
Going back through the history of modern man, back into the 1800's, the 14th of February has been celebrated as Valentine's Day. It is supposed to be a romantic holiday, for celebrating the love in your life with that "very special someone."
In the 19th century, Valentine's Day cards were painstakingly hand-made from materials on hand, whether it was lace, bits of ribbon, fancy paper, pressed dried flowers, or pieces of paper doilies folded intricately. They were given out sparingly, and only to special people about whom you cared deeply.
As we've moved forward in time, the day has become much more about giving expensive gifts, and tossing purchased Valentine's Day cards about like so much confetti. Just look at all the cheaply made "cards" sold in packages of 50 or 100 or more, intended for school children to distribute among their classmates. Hardly a gesture of real love and caring, and more likely a vehicle for hurt feelings on the part of the less popular children who receive few or none.
Not a Holiday In the Usual Sense
Normally, the definition of a holiday means something celebrated with these criteria:
- Celebrated nationwide
- Celebratory day moved to the nearest Friday or Monday
- Many offices (especially government, banks and insurance companies) get the day off work
Valentine's Day fits only into the first case. It is, therefore, not a real holiday, but only a single day of celebration, and it's not even for everyone. It might just as well be called "lover's day," for those are the only ones who will enjoy it. Let's examine that list:
- Those in a new relationship
- The newly engaged
- The newly married
Contrast this against the list of people less likely to celebrate, or even become depressed or put-off by this date:
- The newly divorced, or anyone suffering the recent breakup of a relationship
- The newly widowed (or even widows/widowers of long standing)
- Those who have remained single for whatever reason
So, since a holiday is for all, and should be enjoyed by everyone, I refuse to call this day in February a holiday at all.
I'm Not a February Grinch--I'm Just a Realist
In my carefully considered opinion, given the progressively commercial history of February 14th, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that this is a day meant for little more than puffing up the bank accounts of merchants, after the January sales slump following December's buying frenzy.
How many very expensive dinners will be bought; how many expensive bottles of wine; how many outrageously expensive bouquets of long-stemmed roses; how many special-occasion dresses, to be worn only once; how many pieces of debt-inducing jewelry; how many tons of boxed chocolates?
How many of these gifts will stand the test of time? How many of the couples will still be in loving relationships--with the same persons--next year, next month, next week or in 20 years?
What Is the True Meaning of Valentine's Day?
Here's how I see it:
My husband and I are soul mates. We understand that life is about living, and life can throw you curves. We understand that becoming irritated at times is part of the human condition, and does not describe a relationship as a whole. It is no different than the fact that you have a birthday once a year, or must take out the garbage once a week. Life happens, you deal with it, and move past the moments of angst. We're adults, not teenagers to whom every little trifle is an excuse for, if you'll pardon the cliché, "throwing out the baby with the bath water."
We don't need a special day to do special things for each other. It isn't the fancy jewelry or the box of chocolates that say "I love you and care about you." Going out to dinner is fun now and then, but not doing so does not mean you've fallen out of love. In fact, outside of Mother's Day, it's probably the single worst day of the year to go out to eat, what with "everybody" wanting to do so, the need for reservations, and still long lines, delays and waiting an hour or more. Gee--how romantic.
Rather, it's the warm snuggle on a chilly night; the back rub when you're hurting; the hot soup brought on a tray when you have a cold; holding hands at the doctor's office when you're scared. Those are the special moments that mean something. Those are the touches that say "You are special to me."
We don't need a special date marked on the calendar to remind ourselves that we care.