Valentine’s Day…a day of love and romance? Or just another excuse for the card and gift companies to jack their prices and guilt you into scurrying around like a mad thing before the stores close on the 13th.
Although the origins of Valentine’s day are not absolutely clear, the practice of sending and receiving valentines has been around for at least 500 years. The most popular theory on the beginnings of the Valentine’s legend is that in Roman times there was a law, which forbade young men to marry, as the emperor of the day wanted unencumbered soldiers, not family men who didn’t want to roar off to foreign climes and fight for years on end for low pay and little benefits. There was apparently a young priest named Valentine, who defied the emperor’s law by secretly marrying young couples. He was, unfortunately found out, imprisoned and put to death on February 14th in the year 270 AD. Later, he was named a Christian saint and since he died for helping young lovers to marry, the day was forever linked to love and romance. (Thankfully the imprisonment and being put to death bit was dropped by far thinking historians)
Some believe that there was also a second Valentine who was known for his love of children and also for aiding Christians who were oppressed by the Romans. He too, was imprisoned and given the option of renouncing his Christian faith or being put to death. While he languished in a Roman prison, the children who loved him brought him food and legend has it, that on the day he was put to death (February 14th) he sent a note thanking them which was signed, “from your Valentine”.
Europeans in the Middle Ages believed that all birds chose their mates on February 14th. By the 1600’s people were penning poems to their beloveds on the day and by 1850 elaborate Valentine cards bedecked with lace, feathers and glitter were available for purchase by the wealthy. In the early 1900’s mass produced cards made Valentine’s affordable for the masses.
Today Valentine’s Day has become a commercial bonanza with all manner of themed cards, flowers, chocolates and decorations available for purchase.
In a recent, highly unscientific and random survey on the streets of Lake Cowichan, the question was posed:
“What are your hopes for Valentine’s Day”.
Of the residents surveyed (approximately 60% women, 40% men) the results are as follows….
20% felt that it was either a “dumb” holiday or not a real holiday at all
20% felt that it was a wonderful day that they tried to make special each year
20% “don’t do Valentine’s Day”
20% felt that it would be great to do something special and romantic for their significant other if they could just remember it ahead of time and not just as they were walking in the door on their way home from work
20% felt it was a blatant commercial rip-off and refused to participate in it
After tabulating these results it appears that 20% of our residents are warm-hearted loving people, 20% are warm-hearted, loving people with extremely poor memories and the remaining 60% are highly principled people who refuse to be sucked into the marketing hype (also known as “Cheap!”)
So if you have a significant other that you want to remain on speaking terms with, by all means make the effort. After all, it is just once a year.