Friday, 22 February 2013

Valentine's Day; an After Thought.

Now that Valentine's Day has been and gone, a mere after thought in our minds, it's given me a chance to hear, in passing, people's opinions on the lovely day that graces our cold Februaries.
Universally Valentine's Day is the day of love. A day to tell someone you admire them or just cherish the love you already have but not everyone thinks Valentine's Day is as lovely as it seems and not everyone knows the whole story behind the heart filled holiday.

The story of Valentine's Day begins thousands of years ago, where people celebrated many a martyr in the month of February (the name 'Valentinus' was rather popular back then) and also a Roman fertility festival hosted on the 15th of February helped name February, the month of love. But what really interests the modern world is the story of the Roman saint Valentine, who really gives the holiday its name and meaning.
Of course saint Valentine's tale is often told differently by protestants and catholics (he existed around the 3rd century) but the long and short of every ones tale seems to be that Valentine was a bishop who secretly married roman soldiers behind the emperors back, seen as he had banned the ancient ceremony, insisting it was the reason he had weak soldiers that were too emotionally attached.
Saint valentine was caught and whilst awaiting sentencing for his 'crimes' he was approached by a fellow prisoner and asked to use his saintly abilities to heal his blind daughter.
The emperor, vaguely impressed, went to Valentine and tried to convert him to his gods but Valentine refused and was sentenced to death. Whilst waiting, it was said he wrote a letter to the young girl he had healed, befriended and possibly fell in love with, according to some versions of the tale. He signed the farewell message 'From your Valentine' a phrase we are all familiar with today. Its said he was then to be executed on February the 14th. Hence the holiday of Valentines.

Nowadays many people find Valentine's Day overbearing and commercial saying that it's all about the material possessions instead of the meaning. The 15th century is where we start to see chocolates, flowers and cards being sent, romantically and with lots of heartfelt meaning but it isn't until the 19th century where we see handwritten Valentines overcome by Mass produced cards. Proving this, someone told me;

Vintage Valentines: This Esther Howland card was created in the 1850s. (Wikicommons)
One of Esther's first valentines cards
"I think the old tradition of Valentines is a lovely idea but I don't agree with societies take on it. Its now a big money making scheme for shops etc. I think you should just tell someone you love them everyday"
Although the trail is hazy it seems that the first commercial use of a valentine was made by a lady in America in the 1840's. Esther Howland sold a truly amazing  $5,000 worth of cards (bear in mind back then that was a whole lot of money. Good for her) that's when the company's caught wind of the potential of Valentines and sales have been booming ever since with what I find, unsurprisingly, women buying 85 per cent of the cards!

Talking to people about the subject, especially after the day itself has past, has been illuminating. Rosie told me;
"You should express your feelings everyday not just one day of the year," a wonderful piece of advice I think but she went on to say "Not all people have the option. People that are less fortunate can't afford to express their love in materialistic ways, so in that way, one day a year is a good idea. People are lucky to even get the chance to be with their loved ones."
And I couldn't agree more. Some people go a lifetime without finding love, so they should cherish it every day, not just once a year because it's supposedly the normal thing to do. The general consensus seems to be that valentines is a good idea but maybe we shouldn't concentrate on valentines being once a year, that maybe we should adopt the meaning of the day all year around!

So knowing everything I do about the story of Valentines I think that you should use Valentines as an excuse to maybe do something special or something different with the one you love but that you should still make an effort throughout the year. This year me and my FiancĂ©e spent the day strolling around a museum and visiting the cinema, something both of us could enjoy and I had an amazing day but neither of us are particularly bothered about doing something for the sake of valentines because we make an effort through the rest of the year. The only reason we make any sort of an effort on Valentine's is because my birthday is the day before so it's an excuse to do something extra and make the festivities last longer!
My advice to those nay-Sayers who insist that Valentine's Day is pointless is to not conform to card company's then and perhaps make a card or present, your partner would really appreciate it and it's always nice to let someone you love, know you love them.

So I leave you with this pinnacle idea on Valentines.
"It's worth it. Something nice. A chance to tell someone you love them."
Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day.


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