Many say that Valentine’s Day is an invention of the greeting card industry, with Hallmark taking the brunt of this misdirected wrath. The accusation is so pervasive that the company has posted on its Web site an article called “Just a Hallmark Holiday? Think Again!”
However, the anger at Hallmark and the accusation that the Valentine’s Day celebration is a relatively modern development are both mistaken. Hallmark deserves neither the credit nor the blame for our Valentine’s Day rituals. The company, founded in 1910, printed its first Valentine’s Day card in 1913. The holiday itself dates back many centuries before then; it is apparently another pagan holiday that Christians attempted to repackage, by transforming the Roman fertility celebration Lupercalia into St. Valentine’s Day. This holiday has been transformed into a commercial spectacle promoted by florists, greeting card companies, jewelry stores, and confectionery makers. I didn’t like the holiday when I was single, and I still don’t particularly enjoy now that I am married.
If you are single, you can’t help but see commercials, posters, restaurant menus, store promotions and everything else that has been created for couples. It also makes you even more aware that YOU DON’T HAVE that special someone. Even if you are happily single, Valentine’s Day still causes a flicker of doubt wondering if you can really are THAT happy.
Married or committed couples don’t really have it any much better. There is so much imaginary pressure to live up to manufactured expectations around this one day. It’s like on February 14 we are, in essence, commanded to “be romantic… or else”. It can make you feel like if you don’t go to extravagant lengths to prove yourself with cards, flowers, and jewelry, you don’t really love your partner. Spending hundreds of dollars for Valentine’s Day is akin to including “obey” in your wedding vows: Both seem to demonstrate a subscription to outdated, narrow-minded views of romance.
My favorite Valentine’s Day happened 10 years ago. It was unplanned and cost me 10 dollars. I was single at the time and a college friend of mine happened to be home for an extended winter break. At the time, she was an administrator at a university near the Canadian border (brrr) and I was working at a small liberal arts college in NJ. We both were bouncing back from break-ups and instead of sitting home and feeling down on ourselves, we figured it might be fun if we went out to dinner together.
Do I need to tell you how packed restaurants are on Valentine’s Day?
After driving to at least 20 restaurants that gave us wait times from 3 hours to “don’t even bother”, we ended up at a old diner next to a mall. We were tired, hungry (it was close to 10pm by then), and ready to go home. Our orders were placed and when the food finally came out, my food was burnt. When she bit into her sandwich, she found multiple strands of someone’s hair in her food! At that point, all we could do was laugh and end our impromptu date. We agreed that if we were both single next year, we’d plan a little better in order to secure a better meal. Three years later, we were married.
Did you know?
Words that imply negative sexual consequences (venereral diseases, herpes, syphilis, etc) are all derived from Latin words whereas positive sexual functions (aphrodisiac, platonic, erotic, etc.) come from the Greek! Happy Valentines Day!