Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day - Make Just One Someone Happy

"Like I always said, love wouldn't be blind if the braille weren't 
 so much damned fun."

Armistead Maupin, "Maybe the Moon"

There were at least two historically significant Christian martyrs named Valentinus, St. Valentine of Rome and St. Valentine of Terni.  Our St. Valentine, St. Valentine of Rome, like every other historical figure, is part fact, part myth and in his case, part Hallmark moment.

Historically, St. Valentine of Rome, was a priest who married, not only couples of the early Christian faith, but also Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry by Roman law. Eventually, Valentine was arrested, tortured (hence the martyrdom part) and executed.  Legend says that he cured his jailer’s daughter of blindness.  Later the story was embellished to include St Valentine sending a note to the girl on the eve of his execution signed, ‘your Valentine.’

The Feast of St. Valentine, was not linked to romantic love until the fifteenth century, when educated people began sending notes and stanzas of poetry to their loved ones.  The first commercially produced Valentine’s Day cards were manufactured in the eighteenth century for tongue-tied young men who were hopeless at expressing themselves.  Needless to say, the business became a smashing success.  Victorians added their own style to the cards, making them floral and frilly.  It wasn’t until the latter half of the twentieth century that we began giving flowers, chocolates and actual gift items.

They say that you can’t buy love, but every year Americans spend between 13 and 14 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day.  In 2011, despite a twitchy economy, 3.4 billion was spent on romantic dinners, 3.5 billion on jewelry and by comparison, only a paltry 1.1 billion was spent on cards.  In 2012, the amounts spent per category increased.  We’ve come a long way from a simple lace-covered card inscribed with a pretty verse.  Valentine’s Day has, like so many other well-intentioned holidays, has become big business.

This year how about giving your Valentine your attention instead of a mass produced big ticket item.  Back rubs, foot messages, heck, even turning off your smart phone for the evening are marvelous things to do.  Experience the sheer wonder of being together during a single moment in time.  Time passes quickly and it is much too easy to squander, especially with all the high tech distractions available to us.  This year give real romance try.  Give the best gift possible to someone who loves you.  Give yourself without reservation, or afterthought.  That’s what love’s about.   


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