V-Day D-Day – the good, the bad and the origins

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Something about Valentine’s Day just sets women up for epic failure.  It creates so much expectation and anticipation.  There aren’t that many men out there who have the initiative and romantic streak to give a girl that ‘Hollywood moment’ that so many girls crave.  For a lot of men it’s just another day.

Women on the other hand make a big fuss about it.  I’d have to say that with my peer group it dates back all the way to when someone had the stupid idea to let children buy roses for each other in school.  Voila – a new popularity ranking system is born and soon women start estimating their worth according to the amount of roses they receive.  Enter epic failure and the feeling of rejection when you don’t get any.

As a result of systems like that I have always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day.  I am a closet case romantic so on some occasions I love getting crafty and being a source of joy to others.  Those years I enjoy tremendously.  I enjoy it even more when some random stranger has the same initiative.  There are other years though that I just hate it.  The years where you have a total Bridget Jones meltdown.  Worst one I ever had was when my date just failed to pitch.  I sat on the couch and finished an entire bottle of red wine whilst watching a crappy movie.  His excuse was that he “Didn’t know I really wanted him to come over”  Duh.  We had a date.  It was Valentine’s Day.  Needless to say the relationship was a short lived one.  Another crappy year was when the guy I was dating at the time didn’t even have the courtesy of sending me an SMS.

Still there have been some good years – one of my favourites was when a graphic designer designed me my own valentine’s day card from scratch – it was beautifully modelled non-existent flower with a sweet message that he emailed to me.  Those days make all the morbid suffering worthwhile.

Not all of us need grand gestures or expensive bouquets.  It is about the thought more than anything else.  The gesture that expresses the affection, adoration or whatever else it may be in your case.  I’m rather simple in that way – it doesn’t take much to please me, not that I don’t love a ridiculously priced bouquet but I’m perfectly happy with a single wild daisy as long as it’s presented by a boy I like.

Unfortunately Valentine’s Day has gotten so commercialized that sometimes we forget about what it’s really about.  All we see are hearts, chocolates and flowers.  The modern representation has boiled down to love and happiness or rejection and loneliness.

So I would like to take a moment to remind myself and all of you about the real meaning behind Valentine’s Day. *insert corny music here*

Valentine’s day as we know it now originated in the 14th century but the legend dates back to Rome.  The priest it was named after died and was buried on February 14, 269 AD.  His story was a simple but touching one and has since touched all of our lives in one way or another without our knowing it.  During the time he lived the Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus was building up an army.  He forbade marriages because he thought that if they remain unmarried then soldiers would sign up more easily for his campaigns and would be less reluctant to leave their homes behind.  St Valentine ignored the law and continued to marry Christian couples in secret, he also aided persecuted Christians.  Eventually he was caught, jailed and sentenced to death. Many of the couples he married and some of the young people who believed in his cause threw notes and flowers through his cell window.  One of his admirers was his jailors daughter and she was permitted to visit him.  By doing this she kept him in good spirits.  On the day he was executed he left her a note signed “Love from your Valentine”.  The poor man was beaten with clubs, stoned and then beheaded but his faith in love started a wonderful annual tradition of note writing and flower giving in honour of love and the sacrifice he made on behalf of his belief in it.  Amidst all of the commercialism many of us have forgotten this message.

There is another facet to this story though – Valentine’s Day also coincided with the day that the Romans celebrated Lupercalia (a pagan festival in honour of Juno, goddess of love and marriage, queen of the other gods and goddesses).  On the 14th of February the Romans would hold a ‘love lottery’ during which the girls’ names were placed in jars and drawn randomly by the boys.  They were then paired up for the remainder of the festival and in special cases where they fell in love they were paired for life.  Some believe that the 14th century priests invented the legend in order to cover and replace the pagan roots.  The priests eventually changed the tradition by choosing that day for a feast during which they would choose saints for patrons.

Either way the 14th of February is a day for loving and celebrating love.  This doesn’t even require an admirer with flowers, it just requires that we remember and love the special people in our lives and love itself.  So even if you don’t have a Valentine of your own, remember what the day stands for.

XXX

With Love

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