Friday, February 4, 2011

It's Only Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a pretty important holiday to many, symbolizing love. But where did this holiday come from and to whom to we owe the pleasure of thanking for the pounds of chocolates and endless roses that cost a fortune? Have you ever wondered that, I certainly have. I turned to the History Channel to find out and found literally pages upon pages of information. The following is my condensed version, my very, very condensed version.
February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men, Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
According to another legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, with Christmas being the first.
Alright, so now we understand the history. What I don't understand is all the hype. Why does a dozen roses cost five times more on February 14th than it does on January 15th? Why must you order chocolate covered strawberries weeks in advance and again, pay a pretty penny? Why do ladies get bent out of shape if the man in their life doesn't live up to her Valentine's Day expectations? Okay, not all ladies are guilty of this but many are. I suppose my husband lucked out in that I would be so mad if he spent the ridiculous amount of money on inflated roses and the last thing I need is a bunch of candy; I'm still recovering from the raids of Halloween candy. My favorite things are the handmade things that get brought home from school or made here at home. I totally just sounded like my mother when saying that, but it is true. In my opinion, Valentine's Day should be every day in that we show our love to each other, say nice things and try to spend a couple of minutes together. But, where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you have your ideal gift and dinner spot picked out months in advance or do you avoid those crowds at all costs? You know where I fall.
And if you must get me a gift, please get me something I can use. Something that won't die in a couple of days. You can have a little fun but at least be practical. And ladies, give the guys a break this year. It is only Valentine's Day.


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