Category Archives: Rant

Bring back Lupercalia!

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.

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Do(t) This!

As Canada gets criticism in Copenhagen on it’s environment slovenliness, this campaign caught our eye as one of many signs that Canadians as a nation are in fact far more aware and active than our Politicians decisions portray on the international platform.

The Canadian flyer industry contributes more than 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Paper-based advertising uses up a lot of water, electricity, fossil fuels, and trees. Our mailboxes are literally stuffed with junk mail that, at best, receives a quick glimpse before being trashed or hopefully recycled. Yet the standard industry response rate is only 2 percent. That’s a 98 percent failure rate! You do the math, the insanity is terrifying and we shudder to think what our neighbours to the South are inundated with! So it’s a good thing that a Canadian federal program and a bunch of red dots are helping to reduce this environmentally unfriendly form of advertising. For the past 11 years, Canada Post has offered Canadians the opportunity to opt out of receiving junk mail.

Who knew?

Some business owners are starting to understand that people don’t need or want flyers. In the world’s most “internet connected” country, grocery store giants like Loblaw’s, Metro and Food Basics, as well as the likes of Best Buy/Future Shop , Canadian Tire and so many more already offer e-flyers online.

The Internet, is also where you will find the Red Dot Campaign—named for the red dot that Canada Post uses in their files to indicate households that have vetoed unaddressed admail. Since January 2008, reddotcampaign.ca has taken off, proving that Candians don’t have to be victims of literary litter. Five percent of households have already opted out using Canada Post’s “Consumer Choice” option, according to the Red Dot website. Advertisers use Canada Post numbers to plan their print runs, so the more people who say no, the more waste is reduced over the long term. It couldn’t be easier to take a few simple steps that can save a lot of trees.

Step one
Put a “No Ad Mail or “No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox, which carriers are supposed to (but sometimes don’t) heed. Rules vary in different regions, so check reddotcampaign.ca for specifics. For those of you in a condo, loft or community living situation, talk to your condo board and see if a consensus against junk mail can be reached.

Step two
Write a letter to Canada Post indicating you don’t want any unaddressed mail delivered to your home. Reddotcampaign.ca website offers a sample.

Step three
Register on the Canadian Marketing Association’s “Do Not Contact” service at the-cma.org, which will reduce mail-out advertising from its members and/or you can also write to: Do Not Mail Service, c/o Canadian Marketing Association, 1 Concorde Gate, Suite 607, Don Mills, Ontario M3C 3N6.

If you do(t) nothing else for the environment in the new year … do(t) this.

(If you are a US citizen)

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