Before we begin, we’d like to note, this isn’t the rant of a single person hating the holiday out of jealousy, loneliness or lack of a “date” on February 14th. We believe it is obvious and abundantly clear we are happy, crazy in love and grateful for each other every single moment.
So, on that note, if we could get our hands on the schmuck who turned a quiet mid-February day into the worldwide shopping phenomenon it has become, we’d love to (insert appropriate action here).
Valentine’s Day has been around for decades so whomever first saw dollar signs in love hearts is no longer of the living, yet this legacy and lunacy prevails. Retribution for this abomination is thus, unfortunately out of our hands.
If only people would stop, and see this schmaltzy garbage for what it really is – useless teddy bears, awful candy, overpriced balloons, lingerie, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and bank-breaking bunches of roses soon to wither and die – please people, you’re being sucked in. As minimalists we can’t help feel that the plastic, Wal-Mart and dollar store products are not just an abomination against love and good taste, but also against the planet and its limited resources.
Like all these big shopping occasions, Valentine’s Day had humble beginnings. Long before it was actually called Valentine’s Day, there was a pagan festival, associated with purification and fertility called Lupercalia. It was held in ancient Rome at the beginning of February to honor the god Pan and herald the arrival of spring. There was ritual, feasting, raucous drinking and yes … sex. Then during the middle ages, February 14 was traditionally thought to be the day that all the birds paired up for the year. In other words: mating season.
The early (and very prude) Christians decided to put a stop to all the unbridled eroticism and overt sexuality around that time of year, and changed the festival of lust to one of romantic love and in the process killing any real meaning. In those days when there was little room or time for such courtly behavior as romantic love one can only wonder how this concept even survived. Yet it did. They grabbed hold of a fantastic public relations opportunity in the shape of Saint Valentine.
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three people called Valentine, who were martyred, so the Valentine story could be about any one of them… all of them… or most likely, none of them.
The most common legend is that the ruler at the time, Emperor Claudius II, decided to outlaw marriage and engagement because he wanted more men for his armies, and the locals preferred to “make love, not war”. Valentine carried out secret marriages, and the occasional miracle, until he was caught in the act and imprisoned. Rumor had it that while incarcerated, he fell madly in love with the jailer’s daughter, who visited him often (because that’s very Christian behavior). One story says that he was beheaded, and the night before his execution, he sent his true love a note that he signed “from your Valentine.” Other stories say that he just got sick and died in prison.
The oldest known Valentine card still in existence dates back to 1415, and was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was also imprisoned – but this time in the Tower of London. Our guess is they probably didn’t have a romantic meal later that evening. Either way, all the crappy and cheesy Valentine day cards are his fault.
Although its origins are a bit hazy, historians agree that it has something to do with a Christian, some soldiers, a hot babe and a love letter… possibly. No mention of romantic weekend breaks or expensive candle-lit dinners. Oh no, it’s the shopkeepers and marketing managers who brought this commercial hell upon us. Florists giggle in glee with gratitude as their pockets fill with cash and restaurant owners cackle with delight as desperate fools haggle for their best table.
The result? Cash-strapped, indebted people go further into overdraft just to make their “love” feel wanted. It’s without doubt the worst day of the year to “show your affection” for your partner in this way; everything costs three times as much as it normally does and because you were told to do it on that specific day, it negates any sense of romance. Meanwhile, on February 15th, these shop owners skip happily to the travel agents to book their winter holidays.
To all those couples out there … if it was real, spur-of-the-moment love it would be fine but it’s not, its manufactured affection. It’s about as “real” as Vegas. It is frightening how many people have only this day, a birthday and an anniversary as romantic highlights in their year. It’s sad. There is no imagination, no reality in any of the gestures. Nothing says I love you more than a night out, a thoughtful gift, a backrub, a shoulder to lean on, a supportive word in difficult times and so much more … on any other day!
For us, every day is Valentine’s Day. We don’t need a contrived special day to underscore the natural love in our relationship.