Valentines day is just around the corner and with it a lot of unneeded anxiety brought on by the Greeting card companies. People who are not in a relationship get to be reminded of how alone they feel, even if normally they are perfectly content being single, While people in relationships get to be filled with worry of whether what they do will be enough or if their partner will remember them. All the people who didn’t get flowers, chocolates or stuffed bears might as well walk around all day wearing signs saying “No body loves me”. As a teenager my response to this was to hand out homemade buttons with my sister that said “Happy V.D.” to everyone we knew. I know it’s crass, but sometimes a bit of vulgarity is what you need to handle the media infused frenzy of the holiday. Let me be clear… I am not against love, what I am against is the overwhelming pressure put upon people to be in a relationship… any relationship. It’s like the whole country goes crazy in mid February & really how many poorly made stuffed bears does a person need in a lifetime.
So where did all this Valentines hoopla come from you ask? Like most holidays we celebrate there is a bit of this and a bit of that thrown in from various cultures until you get the modern holiday we all recognize. The name Valentine comes from St. Valentine, who there is not a lot of facts around. In the Saint category most of his acts were so vague that Pope Gelasius who officially named Valentine a Saint said his deeds were known only by God. Some even say his story was really that of a couple of people. He was known for performing marriage ceremonies for young men who were forbade to marry. This landed Valentine in jail where he apparently performed miraculous acts of healing. But we cannot just stop at Saint Valentine, for that was merely one of the incarnations of the holiday, and not a very glossy one. Before Valentine the ancient Romans celebrated the 15th of February as Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a Wolf holiday dedicated to Lupa, the she-wolf who raised the orphans Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome). It was seen as a fertility holiday and some of it’s traditions which included spanking young women with whips to ensure fertility would make my crass ‘Happy V.D.” pins look mild. Yet even before Lupercalia there was the Greek holiday honoring the Goddess Juno. I am sure this bit of history has not cleared up how we got to love poems, teddy bears and flowers. For that we can thank Geoffrey Chaucer who shared with the world the stories of courtly love in the Middle ages…the stories (which were fictional) included, confections, flowers and cards.
Now that I have done my historical bit I would like to suggest that we take Valentines day back to yet another piece of history…that of our 2nd grade classroom. In the second grade I remember having fond memories of Valentines day. Back before it became a holiday of haves and have not’s. I remember making out Valentines cards for all the kids in my class, with the biggest worry being whether or not I got to make my own or got to pick from something cool that came in a box. Personally I really liked making my own Valentines, but on the years I couldn’t I just hoped mine were ultra cool like Wonder Woman or Batgirl. When we made sweets to hand out there had to be enough for everyone in the class. This is the kind of thinking I believe we need more of. There is plenty of love to go around and it comes in all types. There is the love we share with our sweetheart, the love we have for our children, our friends, siblings, parents, grandparents & even the people we work with. Spreading love about makes the world a better place to be in. So this Valentines day I think I will make up some Valentines and spread them about. I will most likely go with the digital version as I am big on saving trees….but I believe there will be some sweets involved too.
I would like to end with saying that LOVE is the answer….
spreading oodles and oodles of Love…salicrow