It’s unfortunate that Valentine’s Day cops a bit of flack. If you’re single, the last thing you want is to be surrounded by great big displays of red roses and over inflated heart-shaped balloons each time you walk into your local supermarket. If you’re in a relationship, all the hype makes you feel pressured into making some big grand gesture. Only an hour ago I received a few ‘eye rolls’ when I mentioned Valentines Day at a local coffee shop. Not everyone gets excited about the day, and that’s just plain sad. I do understand though. Over the years Valentines Day has become this great big money-making extravaganza, and in many ways the true meaning of the day has become lost amongst all the marketing and hoo-ha.
But, it hasn’t always been this way. Valentines Day was originally celebrated as a feast in honour of Valentine, a Roman who was buried around 270 A.D. History is a tad murky when it comes to explaining who Valentine was, some stories say he was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II during the third century in Rome. Apparently the emperor had made a decision to outlaw marriage for all the young men because he felt that they made better soldiers without any wives and children. Idiot! Thankfully the priest continued to perform marriages in secret, but when Claudius found out, he ordered the priest be put to death. Another popular story suggest that the imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself to a young woman he was in love with. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine.” Although the truth behind the Valentine legends are murky, the stories still tell the tale of a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly romantic figure.
Valentines Day was originally celebrated as a festival in honour of love and all that was sacrificed. Friends and family would gather and a matchmaking lottery of sorts would take place in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be together for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right. As the years rolled on, the holiday became more romantic when intimate meals between lovers would take place instead of kinky feasts 😉
During the late 15th Century, the famous playwright and poet Shakespeare mentioned Valentines Day in several of his works. A Midsummer Nights Dream and Hamlet tell of his love for this celebrated occasion. As the years continued to pass, letters and poems of love, and the exchange of a small token was common. It wasn’t until the 19th century that printed cards took over from hand written letters. Printing companies began mass producing cards focussing on significant times of the year such as Valentines Day. Sweet companies began to see a market and began to advertise sweets as a gift for lovers. By the 1970’s and 80’s advertising went nuts to put it quite blankly! And the advertising guru’s have not slowed down in their quest for a piece of the money-making pie.
Despite all of this, I still believe we shouldn’t turn our back on the day. Why? Because it’s 2016 and we could all do with this particular holiday. In some respects, we are leading much better lives than our ancestors did. We have access to life saving medicine, we have technology that makes our lives easier, access to heating and cooling, good quality food…I could keep on going. Before the 19th century, life was much harder. That said we are working more these days than we ever have. In Australia’s capital cities, you need to win tattslotto just to buy an average sized 50-year-old suburban home. We get up at the crack of dawn, gets the kids dressed and either drop them off to school, day care or the grand parents if you’re lucky; drive in ridiculous traffic conditions or squeeze onto a train just to get to work. We are working longer hours, for businesses that are more worried about their shareholders than those that are making all the sacrifices.
We need to stop and breathe. We need to remember why we are getting out of bed each day and working our butts off. Time moves by quickly, the older we get the faster it flies by. We know life in 2016 is hectic, we know our lives are busy but how often do we all stop, and just take a moment and think about our loved ones. We should be doing that every day, but we don’t. By the time we finish work, get home, cook dinner, wash the kids, clean up the house, put on some washing, and jump into bed <blink> we are back up and doing it all over again. Sometimes we just need an opportunity to stop and appreciate one another. Sometimes, we just can’t get there on our own and we need a little push in the right direction. Valentine’s Day gives us an excuse to do that.
I have always loved Valentine’s Day for that reason. Even when I was a single girl, I would embrace the day and have fun with my friends. We would go out to dinner, go to the movies and have a great time. When I met Mitchell, I looked forward to Valentines Day, not because I wanted him to amaze me with something spectacular, but because I genuinely wanted to create a special night separate from every other day. I don’t think it’s all up to the men, if you want to do something sweet for someone special in your life, then take the reins and do it. The point of this entire article is this – sometimes we need a reminder to break away from all the chaos in our lives and pay attention to one another. And I think it’s ok to need a reason to do that.
Valentine’s Day can be celebrated with a significant other, a good friend or even by yourself. There are no rules and no reason why you can’t enjoy the day. Instead of rolling your eyes, just take a minute and think of those you would like to express your gratitude and admiration, it could even be for yourself? Tell your best friend how much you care, grab your partner and give them a heart stopping kiss they wont forget in a hurry. Enjoy the day for what it is – love, and share your feeling with those that mean the most to you. You will be happy you did.
x x x