Monday, February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I wasn’t really planning on writing a Valentine’s Day blog today. Everyone knows what kind of person I am – I love love. All of it – flowers, candy, poetry, lingerie, romance – you name it, I’m all for it. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.
But Jaz brought up something last week in Random Thoughts Thursday that I often thought about myself - people who hate Valentine’s Day. So since she asked me to write about it…and Serena cosigned…I figured why not discuss it today.
Now, for those of you that don’t know the history of Valentine’s Day, let me give a bit of it to you as described in Wikipedia.
The Early Medieval acta of either Saint Valentine were expounded briefly in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.
Since Legenda Aurea still provided no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail.
There is an additional modern embellishment to The Golden Legend, provided by American Greetings to History.com, and widely repeated despite having no historical basis whatsoever. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first "valentine" card himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed, or both. It was a note that read "From your Valentine."
Now, having read that, it seems that this is a holiday that celebrates a massacre. Yet, some find the “romance” of this story alluring. We find reasons to celebrate anything in this country, so love should be no exception.
Yet there are some who hate this holiday. Now, if you believe that it’s wrong to celebrate based on the history of Valentine’s Day, this blog isn’t for you. If you’re someone who does not celebrate pagan holidays period, then this blog isn’t for you. But if you hate this holiday because the sight of other people celebrating love nauseates you, then you need to get over it.
I’m not one to tell people what they should and/or should not celebrate. It’s none of my business, and I wouldn’t want anyone telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing either. If you want to celebrate Groundhog’s Day, Independence Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, birthdays, whatever – that’s all great and wonderful. And I do believe that we should celebrate love and tell the people we care about that we love them every day, not just one day a year. But most people I know DO celebrate love all year round…they just like to do a little extra on February 14th – and I find nothing wrong with that.
I don’t personally know any women who hate Valentine’s Day. Now, I know women who don’t celebrate every year, or who don’t make a big deal of it. But hate it? I don’t know one. I’m sure there are several out there, I just don’t know any.
But men? I know SEVERAL who hate this day. Not because St. Valentine was murdered. Not because it’s not a religious holiday. They hate it because they think it will break their pockets.
Yes, like most other holidays, Valentine’s Day has become very commercial. It’s not enough to take a piece of red cardboard paper and write, “Roses are red, violets are blue…” on it. Now, men feel pressured to spend their hard earned cash on flowers, cards, candy, Victoria’s Secret and fancy dinners. The prices of all these things are jacked up just in time for us to show our “love” to the object of our affection. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the American way…money first, love second.
Some men also don’t like the “pressure” of Valentine’s Day. How big should the flower arrangement be? I want to get her a card that says “I like you a lot” – because I’m not quite in love with her…yet. Is she going to like this restaurant? How much should I spend? We just started dating, what should I do?
And then there are those who act a fool just before Valentine’s Day so they don’t have to worry about any of that stuff and then “act right” again around February 20th or so :-)
Listen…I get it. If you’re in a new relationship, then this holiday can be tricky. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a woman who expects the world on this day, then that can be a problem too. But it doesn’t have to be this deep. Most women would appreciate a simple card with a single flower that has a heartfelt message written in it from you. If she thinks you skimped on her, and doesn’t appreciate your efforts, then she probably isn’t the woman for you anyway.
But it’s not just about the men. There are women who “claim” not to celebrate because it’s not a big deal – but really what they mean is “I’m not celebrating THIS YEAR because I don’t have a man.” I know plenty of women who say they hate Valentine’s Day one year – but LOVE Valentine’s Day the next year when they have a sweetie to celebrate with.
Whether you celebrate or not, love is love. Love begins with you. Love is something that should be celebrated daily. We are born open to giving and receiving love – to love and be loved in return. It’s the simplest and most natural thing. So why hate on it?
For some, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the renewing power of love. For others, it’s a day to tell someone you love him/her for the very first time. The “romantically challenged” use it as day to show love in ways they normally don’t. Sometimes we take the love we have in our lives for granted, so we use this day to restore it, appreciate it, embrace it or heal with it. Love is a verb, not just a “day.” It’s something you do, not just something you profess. It’s an act of doing for others, not just a moment of infatuation. It’s what you give, not what you seek to receive.
I can’t be mad at anyone who is walking around with rose colored glasses on today. I love seeing people happy, giving and receiving flowers and candy, being all mushy and lovey and dovey - on Valentine’s Day and on ANY day. Whether I have a Valentine or not, I can’t be mad at anyone taking advantage of a day to show someone they care.
But if you ARE mad at it, think about the real reason it upsets you. Is it because you think people are sucked into the commercialism of it all? Is it because you don’t believe people should celebrate a day that was born out of an execution? Or is because you’re lonely and miserable? At the end of the day, do any of these reasons even matter?
There is no reason to rain on anyone else’s parade. There’s no reason to belittle, attack or be judgmental towards anyone who doesn’t believe what you believe. Let them be. After all, people showing love to one another never hurt anyone and is never a bad thing. We are all love manifesting as channels through which even more love may flow and find expression. Love increases our lives as we live it and give it away…even if only to ourselves.
This is what God does – eternally giving Him/Her/Itself away to all. This is why we say God is love, and it begins in Him and has no end…well past Valentine’s Day. There's no need to be miserable or hateful today, Valentine or no Valentine. There is no greater invitation to love than loving first.