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The History of Valentines Day According to Me

The history of St. Valentine’s Day is rather screwy as with most international holidays.  Turn your ear one way you will hear that it originated from a festival in Ancient Rome celebrating fertility.  Turn you ear the other way and you will find those that believe the connection of love and romance to the February 14th date didn’t happen until Chaucer wrote his poem honoring the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.  He wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Beautiful right?  We know that the two, or possibly three, Saints that Valentine’s Day is named after really didn’t have anything to do with romance and love.  They were martyrs that died for some beliefs that are lost to history.  It seems like everywhere you go in the world there is some tradition or festival that coincides with this date or concept.  All over Europe, whether it’s celebrated on a different calender date or carries a different title than Valentine’s Day, there is a day that celebrates love and all the sweetness involved. In many areas of South America Valentine’s Day or “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship) is a day where friendships are recognized with small or anonymous gifts to “secret friends”.  In Brazil, their day of celebrating love is June 12th.  The commercial holiday of Valentine’s Day on February 14th falls too close and can interfere with Carnival which is already considered the holiday of sex and debauchery by many.  *personal note: I think we need to have our own version of Carnival every year too in every city, not just New Orleans!*  Asia also has its own versions of the holiday.  Aww, “me love you long time.”

 About the only area of the world that doesn’t have some celebration of love is in the Middle East.  Go figure!  Not to knock everyone living that culture, because that just isn’t my way, and I’m sure there are plenty of people there that would happily celebrate the genuine, emotional, very human feeling that is love, but they can’t because the concept of love just wouldn’t mesh with some of their ideas of suppression.  I’m going to stop there because that’s a whole giant can of worms that I can’t open lest I climb too high on my soap box and tumble off.

So where am I going with this history lesson you wonder?  I’m heading in the direction of wondering when celebrating love and romance turned so commercial that it became annoying?  I’m as average as the next girl where I like receiving a little token to say I love you.  Something sweet and sentimental. And I LOVE giving my sweet hubby little pieces of my heart too.  But the commercial aspect of the holiday is too overwhelming for me.  If you want to read more about how the first assault on our senses started please refer to this article in Wikipedia where I pulled most of my info together for you tonight.  I didn’t have enough energy to research further since all the giant red mylar balloons shaped like lips burnt my retinas. There you can read about who sent the first Valentines greeting cards and who created a business out of doing it.

 I will at least say I’m happy to hear that the commercialization of the holiday started with the written word.  Even if it’s in the form of a greeting card it’s still prose from the heart.  But unfortunately, the nice little greeting card to tell someone you loved them or that you admired them has turned into an all out frenzy of pink, red and now even purple stuffed animals. (HELLO!!  The colors pink and red clash for a reason!!!) Stuffed dogs with hearts on their butts that say “I wuff you”.  Cute?  Yes, if your into that sort of thing.  I’ll admit to buying my husband one of those little stuffed dogs this year, but only because I knew he would give it to our 8 month old who IS A CHILD, who is SUPPOSED TO PLAY WITH STUFFED DOLLS!  If you venture into a store somewhere right after Christmas you will start seeing the early signs of Valentine’s Day. There, in between the Isles of Christmas Past you will find a nook already set up plastered with red hearts.  Not like it takes 2 months to figure out what you’re going to buy people!!  But the retailers what to catch those early birds that don’t want to miss out on their chance to buy the perfect heart shaped muffin pan or red plastic heart shaped glassware.  

I remember as a kid having to stuff all those Hello Kitty Valentine cards into their little envelopes.  Taking all the time to neatly print each classmate’s name on the fronts.  Then getting to school and passing out all of my little treasures into little bags that we had spent the day before decorating.  Of course every kid in class got the same number of Valentines.  But I remember feeling a little disturbed when I would see Little Suzi open her bag and find that someone put some candy in it or a really BIG card.  Something special that was given just to her.  Made me feel like a retch and I was only in elementary school!  But now I can take pleasure in the fact that Little Suzi is fat and unsuccessful and I’m the one getting the BIG cards now! So there! Nanny nanny, boo boo!  Envy starts early in life and I can and will blame it all on the commercialization of Valentine’s Day.

The last thing I want to stuff into your brains tonight is the latest and the most OVER THE TOP Valentines Gift I have EVER seen!!!!!  While doing a little romantic evening grocery shopping with my husband tonight, because GOD FORBID we run out of yogurt, I saw this little gem in the meat department.  Unfortunately, the one time I didn’t have my camera and neither of us had our phones is when I see this winner.  Our local grocery store had a plastic box with two raw ribeye steaks cut and squished next to each other into a heart shaped package so they took on the shape of the heart.  Of course they were “blood red”.  The whole thing disturbed me deeply.  “How much do I love thee?  Let me show you with this package of dead bloody cow especially shaped into a heart for you, my sweet.”  While I love a good steak and am by no means a vegetarian that’s just not right.  I mean, couldn’t they have at least used New York Strip or a nice Filet?  “For you my sweet I give you the gift of cheap meat”

With that I will leave you with one more sickeningly sweet but very genuine image as I’m going to go kiss my sweetheart goodnight and tell him I love him.

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