V-day

Today is the day of one of my least favorite holidays: Valentine’s Day. It is a day around which hearts, roses, pink and related colours, and unethical chocolate makes its seemingly unending presence in stores, streets, and everywhere one looks. There are endless gifts and gadgets to buy your loved one to show them that you really care by purchasing “the perfect gift.”

I think I dislike Valentine’s Day mostly because of its high-pressure nature. I feel sorry for people who can’t show their love and affection for 364 days the way that they are “supposed” to show their love and affection on this day. I like to show my love and affection for the people in my life a more even amount. Actually, I think birthdays are a perfect time to show someone just how much they mean to you. As a Leo, I truly love my birthday. Plus, it’s your day (and anyone else born on the same day) and is special just for that.

What I also dislike about V-day is that it really causes a lot of people sadness. This is also a big reason why I don’t like Christmas or New Year’s Eve either (I’m more a fan of the shoulder-season holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving). Any holiday that is so high-pressure to make people feel a certain way (ie. in love) creates a lot of disappointment and lackluster attempts to make it happen. Tonight I went to dinner with some friends and many of the couples at the restaurant looked fairly unhappy. I remember being in an unhappy couple and “having” to go for supper with my significant other on Valentine’s Day because that’s just what we had to do. It was not so much fun. Now I treat it like any other day, even when in a couple relationship. Although, I have to admit that I bought a sad, dying V-Day cyclamen for myself at the store today because it was discounted and I wanted to see if I could revive it.

Today I looked up the history of “Saint Valentine,” who this day is named after. Apparently, there was not one Saint Valentine, but many. February 14th was actually a Christian holiday about some “saints” (yeah, I doubt that) and their feast. I thought it was strange that there was no talk about love or romance. Here is a blurb from Wikipedia about Saint Valentine:

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name “Valentine”, derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14.

In 1969, the Catholic church stopped recognizing it as a holiday. I guess that’s when Hallmark and Nestle thought it would be a fantastic idea to take it over. I can’t help but wonder if they realized that it is actually a pagan holiday. According to About.com:

The Romans celebrated a holiday on February 14th to honor Juno Fructifier, Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses as well as goddess of marriage. In one ritual, women would submit their names to a common box and men would each draw one out. These two would be a couple for the duration of the festival (and at times for the entire following year). Both rituals were designed to promote not only fertility, but also life generally….

In 469, emperor Gelasius declared February 14th a holy day in honor of Valentinus instead of the pagan god Lupercus. This allowed Christianity to take over some of the celebrations of love and fertility which had perviously occurred in the context of paganism. Pagan celebrations were reworked to fit the martyr theme — Christianity did not approve of rituals that encouraged sexuality. Instead of pulling girls’ names from boxes, both boys and girls chose the names of martyred saints from a box.

At some point, the holiday went back to being about love and voila! it became the commercial holiday it is today. I think I’ll just stick to loving the people in my life on my own time, at my own intensity with no expectations of anyone. Actually, today, I have shown a lot of love to myself and I cuddled with my puppy. Happy V-day, to QuirkyAlone me!

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