Valentine’s Day. The first observed holiday to follow the biggest, most important Christian holiday of the year. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the similarities shared by both?
The color red–Santa’s suit and valentines; poinsettias and roses
Both have roots in Christianity, but those roots seem to take a back seat to the celebratory spirit of the date.
Both are named after a saint, albeit St. Valentine’s Day was named after a martyr saint.
Christmas and Valentine’s Day were initially celebrated in the name of someone who was executed.
Winged figures flying around in the air. Angels strum harps, Cupid shoots arrows through hearts.
Candy is strongly associated with both. So is a special meal.
Gifts, or at the very least, cards, are expected from loved ones.
Mass consumerism has taken over the original meaning of both days.
I remember in elementary school, we were expected to make a Valentine’s box to display on Valentine’s day. I would wrap a shoe box, one that had been saved just for this occasion, in red paper. Then I would painstakingly glue little candy hearts and cut-outs on it. As a perfectionist, my box had to be unequaled. I spent hours putting the finishing touches on what was to be the the bomb of all v-day boxes. A rectangular slot was cut along the top so that anybody that wanted to could put a little card inside. Mom once suggested that I simply cover a Kleenex box with tissue paper. “The opening is already there. It’s so much simpler.” Hell would freeze over before I would stoop so low as to to allow future husbands to put their declarations of love in a freaking snot-rag container!
The best cards were the ones that had a heart-shaped sucker attached. Even better if your 4th grade crush signed it “love”. I would wait until I got home to lift the lid off my box and read the cards, in the privacy of my bedroom. Even though each kid got a valentine from every other kid in the class, just seeing the name of the one you secretly admired was the making of grade-school fantasies.
By middle school, Valentine’s Day became a popularity contest, with girls congregating in the bathroom or at lunchtime to compare who-got-what-from-whom. Being popular with the boys, I often had several heart-shaped boxes of Brachs chocolates bestowed upon me. I once received an anonymous box of chocolate-covered cherries. I still don’t know who gave them to me, but honestly, I think I’m one of the few people on earth who actually loves them! (Ditto fruitcake at Christmastime.)
Now that HK and I have been married for 21 years (!), I don’t expect anything. Not flowers, not special chocolate, not dinner in a fancy restaurant. I would much rather have a nice bottle of wine in front of a cozy fireplace, snuggled with HK and our 3 pups. I know that the “reason for the season” is love, and seriously, isn’t that what it’s all about?.