Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day - Saint Valentine's Day, established in honor of a priest who was martyred during the middle ages - has absolutely NO historical foundations in romantic love. Those connections were added later during the late middle ages/early renaissance following the tradition of courtly love (Chaucer anyone?). I can understand why, in a western society where weddings are the epitome of trendiness, where marriage is a rite of passage, and where romantic love is heralded as the pinnacle of happiness, many people feel "left out" during Valentine's Day. There's a lot of pressure on single people to get into relationships and get married (and buy a house and have babies and get a job), many struggle with feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, and many often have painful emotional scars from past relationships gone wrong. I am no stranger to feeling sad during holidays (while Valentine's Day has never saddened me, Christmas is a touchy holiday), and I do my best to cheer up those who find the holiday particularly painful. After all, Valentine's Day is an increasingly concentrated dose of "YOU'RE GOING TO DIE ALONE!"

But it shouldn't be!

Growing up, Valentine's Day was an awesome day, even during the years when life in general (and family life in specific) was not very pleasant. I was never one of those people who got sad or moped around because I was single. I was never one of those people who - even worse - made the day miserable for those who were not single by being a man-hating anti-Valentine's Day grumpy puss. As I said, Valentine's Day has always been AWESOME! My parents always gifted us with chocolates, stuffed animals, flowers, and nice cards. Grade school Valentine's Day parties were full of candy, adorable pre-printed cards from classmates with scribbled signatures, gift box-making competitions (I won my 5th grade year, mum helped me make a heart-shaped box covered in pink lace and glitter, it was SO pretty!), and - the best part - Little Debbie "Be My Valentine" vanilla snack cakes with school lunches.

Even now, when I don't have access to that sort of organized Valentine's Day celebration, I still enjoy it. Heart-shaped balloons, roses in every shade of sexy, mountains of candy on display, couples - young and old - driving themselves crazy trying to out-do one another with romantic plans. I think it is a blast, and I enjoy witnessing - and being a part of - it. As Valentine's Day has become a holiday celebrating romantic/sentimental/intimate love, why not let it become a holiday celebrating all love, whatever form it takes?

Happy Valentine's Day, friends, lovers, family, strangers, and most especially, SINGLETONS! Pig out on candy (and snack cakes!), buy yourself some flowers (or better still, buy them and give them out to strangers!), watch some sappy movies (or, if you're like me, flip on the TV and watch whichever Bruce Willis marathon is playing), go to a party! CELEBRATE!