Valentine’s Day’s insane. The American Consumer Greed Association adopted it as the official holiday to support Hallmark writers through the doldrums between Christmas and Easter, and that season where it’s just a tad early to start stocking for Halloween.
“I know! Let’s celebrate…love.” Yes, St. Valentine was a real person, beheaded around 270 AD. He may, in fact, have been two people–not that the Roman Empire didn’t already have enough people to crucify and behead, but historians just aren’t sure.
The Roman Catholic Church wasn’t that sure. It stopped the veneration of the saint in 1969, either because there was enough LSD to render human love unnecessary, or because enough doubt existed as to whether the real deal was a dude who married a couple in the Christian rite in direct violation of the policies of Rome, or a the Bishop of Terni, who also met his maker without a single card or box of chocolates. I imagine that image would make a great card.
According to CNN, the average person will spend $130.97 on Valentine’s Day this year, and the nation will collectively consume $1.9B in flowers and $1.6B of candy. Most of that will be in my school today causing your kids to bounce themselves off the walls like the type of old-school ping-pong machine they’ve never seen, then they’ll marvel over who got the most flowers in the senior fundraiser. I never get any except maybe a broken one. Some kid says “Miss, this one’s broken. You can have it.” Thanks.
Still, I love Valentine’s Day, despite the fact that I feel more like Gandhi or Mandela making and keeping peace between teens sword fighting with carnations. I don’t have time to celebrate love, which historians think was created by Geoffrey Chaucer, anyway. He wrote a poem linking Beheaded Monk’s Day with courtly love in 1375. He needed something to do after The Plague. The title, “The Parliament of Fowls” totally makes me want to buy a card. If Chaucer were in my class I’d’ve said, “Edit title. Awful!”
Today, I’ll tell the kids all that, especially the fact that (one of) St. Valentine’s skull(s) is actually on display in Rome. They’ll like that. That skull should be on the cards, not hearts–a great idea for marketing to goths an teens with angst, which represent the lion’s part of the market share.
But if you’re just not in the mood this Feb. 14th, there are actually six days you might choose to celebrate your Valentine, according to History.com. Each of the possible St. Valentine’s has a feast day, a date of martyrdom, and there’s a separate day or two recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church due to schisms and differences in the calendar year and such.
I always celebrated the day with my good friend in high school. Maybe she did it out of pity because I was always single. Translation: no one liked me. All the cute guys liked her. It’s life in high school if you’re not a one-percenter. We converted it into a day of friendship, and if I look hard enough, I can probably still find the hand-made t-shirts and cards. It always made me smile. I loved it.
And you know what? Despite the corporate greed and the fact that those chocolates in the heart boxes don’t taste very good, I have fun on Valentine’s Day. I’ll bring my students some donuts and take my family out to pizza. All the good restaurants are booked with people trying to impress people, and I don’t have a reservation. Pizza it is.
I really do like Valentine’s Day, or at least the spirit it represents. I think about you. My friends. My family. The potential to spread love and kindness throughout the world. I think of the beauty in the universe, now covered with snow. The stars in the sky, the icicles holding on for dear life. The beauty…the love…the magic…It’s all around us. That’s what is deserving of a holiday.
No matter how many bad writers Hallmark employs, it can never compete with that.