Sunday, February 14, 2010

Then and Now

It's (cringe) Valentine's Day! Perfect time to start up the blog again.
Actually, any day is a perfect time for that. It just happens to be Feb. 14.

In lieu of producing actual new content, I've decided to recycle one of my journal entries from ten (TEN!) years ago, with updated commentary. Enjoy (or not):



 I wasn't going to do this. I tried to ignore it. I told Hubby and kids not to get or do anything because I wasn't "into" it this year. And the wretched word "valentine" hasn't appeared in this journal yet.. until now. (Whoops I just realized I used it last entry. Nevermind.)

 Of course I'm a day late, as usual. As I write this, the 14th is over and my home is a valentine-free zone (except for Older Son's room.. girlfriend, you know.)


I'm getting better. Not a whole day late, maybe half a day since this will be posted in the evening.
For the record, "Hubby" is now "The Ex" and the "kids" are grown and on their feet. Mother is very proud.


The older I get, the more I detest holidays that have become blatantly commercialized. Anything that sends you off to the mall muttering "I have to get something for A and something for B.." is bad. I don't want anything that someone feels they have to get me. (Well, unless it's jewellery, maybe.)


Chocolate has joined jewellery in the *approved* category. 

 I'm all for love, in all its forms, romantic and otherwise.. I grew up in the 60's after all.. but this holiday isn't about love, it's about making sure you don't piss off the people who are important to you.

It starts in childhood, at school. I still remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I didn't receive as many valentines as the other kids.
 Some teachers try to avoid this by making it compulsory for everybody to send cards to the entire class, but then it's meaningless... 

...or even harmful. Having to give the same kind of card to the kid who smells bad and picks his nose as you give to your secret crush can cause serious cognitive dissonance and teaches a bunch of life lessons, most of which are probably wrong. (Furthermore if the kid who picks his nose IS your secret crush, you've got much bigger problems.)

And need we even go into the issue of same-sex valentines?

While society now seems to recognize the issues that some singles may have on a day dedicated to shopping I mean love...

...this holiday is also difficult for those in unhappy relationships.  The unrelenting media hoopla sends the message that if you're not fulfilled in love, (or even if you are but your lover forgets to shop for you) then you're a loser. Not to mention those who have lost loved ones through no fault of their own. I don't think that leaves a large percentage of the population unscathed.

I am now pleased to report that having no relationship is better than having an unhappy one. For me, anyway.

This holiday has come a long way from its origins... and it might be argued, gone full circle. A quick web search revealed that Valentine's Day is generally accepted to have come from the pagan festival of Lupercalia. Lupercus was a Roman god whose duty it was to keep the wolves from the door (literally).
(Symbolism, anyone?)
On this feast day which was Feb. 15, a name-drawing ritual was held, wherein young men drew the names of young women from a box, and got to keep the woman for the year.
Christianity eventually put an end to Lupercalia and the lady lottery, substituting the name of a martyred saint, Valentine, and a saint lottery, for choosing the name of a someone to emulate for the year. Not much fun for the boys, anymore.

Pity I didn't link to that source. I tried to replicate the search but came up with some academic killjoy who says there's no evidence to support the lottery thing. There is  more info here  on what really must have gone on (naked carousing, animal sacrifice) but I still like the first story better.

I doubt that Valentine's Day is perceived as a Christian holiday anymore, and we even forget to use the "St." most of the time. The fact that it's allowed into American public schools must mean it's devoid of any religious content.

I was being facetious. Really.

So we're back to a courting ritual with heavy sexual overtones, and heavier commercialization,

a  conclusion also reached by columnist Mark Morford, who wrote a similar (and much better) article in 2003:
...the church both succeeded in their hostile takeover, and failed miserably. Sure Valentine's Day is all romance and sentiment and Malaysian-made stuffed teddy bears on the outside, but it's all raw oysters and sly spankings and salacious romps and whipped-creamed nipples and soft divine bedroom cooing, inside.

Read more:

In the original post I rhetorically asked whether love had anything to do with it at all. Some feedback at the time suggested that any event that encourages a show of affection is a good thing. This is true, as long as the affection is sincere and not limited to one day out of the year. 
And don't forget the chocolate.


Anonymous said...

I am doing research for my university thesis, thanks for your helpful points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

- Kris

Paulineee said...

You're welcome. Good luck :)