There are few holidays that are more perplexing than Valentine’s Day. Fun Fact: This holiday is rooted in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration observed by pagan Romans, usually on February 15. Around Year 496, the holiday ceased to be a pagan ritual, the Pope moved the observance to February 14, and St. Valentine was given his own feast day.
This mainstream acceptance may have paved the long road to the current frenzy of engagement rings and roses that has now reached heart-stopping proportions. To be fair, most of the excess has happened during the last 50 years. I don’t take personal responsibility for this, but a lot of excess over any number of things has happened during my lifetime. This Fun Fact sometimes makes with wonder about the direction we are traveling. But, that’s for another day.
Let’s get some perspective on the exuberance of Valentine’s Day. In the
United States, 190 million cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange. The average Valentine’s spending has surpassed $130 per person. Pretty impressive fallout from a ancient pagan festival.
Can I be honest? I don’t like Valentine’s Day. When I was a child, making the cards at my dining room table was fun. I never saw the point of bringing them to school and stuffing them into the decorated shoe boxes made by children I barely knew. In all fairness, I moved a lot, so these same children didn’t know me either. Still, I was disappointed with the impersonal greetings: “You’re Special!” the card declared, but some of those glittery hearts were unsigned, or my name was spelled with only one “n” as in Dona.
Counting up who gets what on the big red day can become competitive and very pubic. It was painful to watch the flowers arriving at the office the year my engagement went south. Most everyone else was pleased or surprised to receive their love tokens. I don’t think I’m still bitter about the break-up as I’ve moved on to happier places. But, I still have an issue about sending the most intimate messages to someone’s office.
It’s wonderful to set aside time to tell someone you care. Do we need a commercial day to push us toward guilty spending and even sillier night time get-ups? Long ago, asking someone to be your Valentine was not considered a declaration of love. If asked, you were deemed special for one day. Only. Like a blind date set up by your cousin.
I’ve been through more than a few Valentine’s Days. Homemade cards and sticky kisses from my son were fabulous. (He ate all my candy before the card reached me.) My all- time favorite Valentine came the first year I was married. With no money for anything but graduate school, we didn’t qualify for the spending statistics. My husband created a bunch of wildflowers with chalk on the back of a some brown wrapping paper. It was a work of heart. I framed it with popsicle sticks and hung it is the apartment’s tiny kitchen.
Maybe you don’t want to rush around and buy something that isn’t needed or even wanted. So, don’t do it. Maybe the frenzy works for you. So, spend your share. But, here’s what I know. A call from a friend, the memories of my son’s whispered plans to surprise me, and the spontaneous hugs from the people that love me; that’s enough for me.
I’d love to hear from you, but don’t send me roses. Just a heart-felt wish works fine. It’s a great day for a great day.