Valentine's Day! Sigh. A day of marketing genius. It's difficult to remember (or to even care) about the origin of this holiday amid all the roses, heart shaped chocolates and red wrapping, but St. Valentine's Day did start out as a religious holiday. It appears that Valentine was a common name for Christian martyrs and two in particular are honored on the 14th of February: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. St. Valentine's Day was established as a special day by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD (way before Hallmark), yet the day first became associated with romance when Chaucer wrote the poem Parlement of Foules in 1382. Translated into modern English he wrote :
For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate
Awwww.....Chaucer wrote this poem to honour the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, who eventually married when they were each 15 years old !
In 1969 Pope Paul VI, perhaps disheartened by the way the holiday had morphed into what we see today, deleted it from the Roman calendar of saints holidays, although still allowing for its religious observance. (We know what you're thinking...what religious observance???)
Anyhow, as we all know, today Valentine's Day is a day in which people express their love for each other by offering flowers, sweets, cards, and hopefully something sparkling. This gift exchange used to be reserved for lovers, but the great marketing geniuses of the world realized that not everyone has a lover. No worries, because they also realized that most everyone has a parent, a sister, a child, a cousin, a friend, a classmate, a teacher, a boss, a mailman, a dry cleaner. And if you don't...don't worry...you still have yourself ! That's right ladies and gents, there are now Valentine's Day cards and gifts designed for everyone on your Facebook friend list.
It's no wonder then that a lot of cash gets spent on this day, with some reports stating that on average, a person will spend about 170$ on gifts. Men typically spend more than women, probably because they have more to make up for, but the difference really ain't that big. So, before you go and open your wallets, we thought it would be a good idea to question some of the more common Valentine's Day offerings.
1. Roses, generally long stemmed and red, and a small fortune. Interesting symbol to represent and celebrate what one hopes to be a long and healthy relationship don't you think? Dying flowers (that's right...their fate was sealed the moment they were cut) which will wither and dry out and that have the potential to draw blood with one of their thorns. Nice. How about a potted plant instead? Cheaper, and it will last longer...like your love...awwww....
2. Valentine Chocolate. Sweet, smooth, rich, fattening, and, unfortunately, easily obtained at a drugstore (yuck). This latter fact makes cheap chocolate the perfect "Oh no I forgot today is Valentine's day, and I have exactly 5 minutes to go shopping" gift - so obvious. To complicate matters even more, chocolate of any quality should not be given to those who are diabetic, trying to lose weight, simply watching their weight, breastfeeding, lactose-intolerent, bulemic, or to chocolate dis-likers. Should also not be given to anyone who has children (they will eat all the chocolate).
3. Valentine's Day Cards. They are written by people who get paid a lot of money ("a lot" being a relative term, seeing as how we are writing this blog for nothing), who are able to eloquently, beautifully, and sappily express exactly what you yourself are feeling. Unless you are a modern day Chaucer, chances are you won't feel that you can add anymore to what is already in the card you so thoughfully chose. So, to the heartfelt printed prose, you add simply ...your name (and if you are feeling inspired, maybe an "I love you"). The recipient of this card will likely wonder why they aren't in a relationship with the actual person who wrote the card, but they'll say that they love it, and stick it in the recycling bin within a week. Instead, try making your own card (you know, like you did when you were a kid). Make up a poem (words that rhyme with love : glove, shove, dove, above), and it will be remembered forever - even if it really sucks.
There are so many lovely, inexpensive ways to celebrate Valentine's Day. Making a romantic supper, going for a walk holding hands, renting the movie you saw on your first date, decorating the house with red balloons...the list is long. So, use your imagination, save a few bucks, and remember to spread the feeling to the rest of the year.
Happy Valentine's Day