Dear Valentine’s Day: first and foremost, I would just like to say “thank you” for crushing my emotions for yet another year. Thanks, babe, you’re great. As Valentines Day rapidly approaches, now is the time to flee the country. Personally, I recommend running for the hills, as your tears may help with the current drought situation.
Hallmark, however, feels differently about this holiday. An estimated one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making this holiday the second largest card-sending holiday, following Christmas and the yearly embarrassing family Christmas cards our moms love to send. But who created this dreadful holiday? Hallmark sure didn’t get its inspiration out of thin air. Most of us will be emotionally unstable on that glorious Friday night, enjoying our roommates leftover Chinese food while they are out on a date. And let’s not forget watching reruns of Gossip Girl, and we won’t mention the entire box of chocolate you will consume. “These are fat free, right?” Absolutely…
February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, so it was only natural to have someone to blame for the stress. While sheer panic flows over the souls of the “taken” few as pressure sets in to buy candy, chocolate, flowers, and jewelry for their loved ones, the rest of us can prepare for our anti-Valentine’s Day parties.
But why do we celebrate this holiday? Surprisingly, Hallmark had no comment in the matter. However, we do know that this tradition has been around for centuries, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine, all of whom were murdered… and no, not by their wives, surprisingly!
Valentine’s Day spans from vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Bummer…
According to another legend, an imprisoned Valentine sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he 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 signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a romantic figure. Though many believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death, it wasn’t until much later that the day became associated with love.
Whatever the case, happy Single Awareness Day!