Valentine's Day: A Day For Love or Not So Much?
Valentine's Day brings mixed emotions from people who either seem to love the idea of it or hate it. I asked the Gestalt team members to share their thoughts on the holiday dedicated to love.
Why I Hate Valentine's Day by David Voyles
Valentine's Day again?
Ugh. Are you kidding?
First of all, I hate Hallmark. I hate their cards. I hate their movies. I hate their commercials. I even hate their stupid little crown logo.
But most of all I hate them for their manufacturing of artificial holidays like Valentine's Day. Sure, it was a genius stroke in marketing. But there is so much to be mad about.
First of all, let me say that, of course, I know that Hallmark didn't actually create Valentine's Day. According to Someone on Wikipedia, The Catholic Church designated February 14th to honor more than one Christian martyr named Valentineon that day. (The use of italics is mine. "More than one"? That seems like a topic worthy of discussion in itself, but I'm going to leave it right there for now.) I suspect that it was, once again, a brilliant marketing move because people made pilgrimages to these sites to see the bones of these martyrs. As a writer of horror and lover of Halloween, I confess I do kinda like that. But along the way, people spent lots of money, thereby boosting the economy, well, mostly the Church's coffers, on fake "holy" relics, papal indulgences, wagon wheels, and candy hearts on which they wrote love messages.
OK, I made up the last one to see if you were still paying attention.
So where did all the romantic stuff, like Cupid and his bow and arrow come from? Most likely from an unintended association with the Roman fertility celebration of the Lupercal which was held February 13th through 16th. The Church created its own holiday with the intention of replacing the pagan one, but just like All Saints Day and Halloween, the pagan rituals and imagery merged with and eventually overtook the Christian ones.
Alas, the best laid plans…
One of the more "interesting" customs associated with Valentine's Day, whether it originated in Roman times or the Middle Ages (this is disputed) was the practice of men drawing the names of maidens from a lottery in order to "couple" with them. (See how I tidied all that up there? Pro tip: Just stick quotation marks around any "offensive" word to clean it up. Or to spice up an otherwise 'inoffensive" word. You're "welcome.")
The Church changed all that by having maidens randomly draw the names of apostles from the altar. That was tons of fun, I'm sure. "Ooooh, I drew Simon the Zealot! Who'd you get?" "I got Matthew, the tax collector. He's dreamy."
Thrills galore. I don't know what they did once they drew the names. Maybe they collected them over the years and traded them like baseball cards. I'm betting Judas Iscariot was really hard to get.
Some people believe that the original drawing of names to create couples (aka "couples") led to sending Valentine love letters. And THAT led to a horrible practice that inflicted irreparable harm on millions of elementary school children.
Well, on one, at least.
It was customary on Valentine's Day for school children to create little mailboxes out of shoe boxes which they decorated with pink and red construction paper hearts. My mother was a first-grade school teacher and she LOVED making these. So my box did look pretty good.
For a girl.
That point was brought home repeatedly to me by a number of my male acquaintances. Pre-adolescent boys are not known for their sense of gender equality or awareness. I learned by the fourth grade to make my own boxes no matter how unattractive they were.
Anyway, after we lined up all our Valentine boxes along the window sill, we then went around and stuffed little Valentine cards which we had laboriously signed and addressed the night before into them. But this was the opportunity for the undeniable and incomparable cruelty of children to surface, the prime time for one's unpopularity to be broadcast to the world. It was when we collected our boxes and emptied them out on our desks, hoping to find a message of love from that one person whom we had had a crush on since the second grade, and hopefully catch a glance from that certain someone that indicated a love requited. That and to see how many cards we had collected.
Imagine Charlie Brown on Valentine's Day, emptying his shoebox with remarkably non-heart-shaped objects ("I had a little trouble with the scissors") taped haphazardly all over it onto his desk. "I got a rock," I imagine he'd say. And his lack of friends would be highlighted on the six o'clock news.
So that's why I--I mean Charlie--hated Valentine's Day.
Fortunately, my wife shares, or at least understands, my lack of enthusiasm for celebrating this grandest Hallmark of "holidays." (See what I did there?) We may or may not exchange cards, but if we do, they will be humorous. Hopefully even sarcastic. By and large, the 14th of February will come and go with little fanfare in our household.
But I just might go out and buy a pair of shoes for the sole reason of being able to throw the box in the trash.
One of My Favorite Holidays by Jason Stokes
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. That’s because as an artist I have a soft spot for dramatics. It’s a great opportunity to go all out for someone and create a great moment without getting questioned about ‘What did you do?’ or ‘Seriously, what are you trying to hide?’. It’s especially good when you’re in a long term relationship or a marriage when it’s easy for couples to start taking each other for granted. Having a day to designate for coming back together is a definite bonus. I think a weekly date night is a great idea for the same reason but nothing quite beats the all-out efforts of V-Day.
For those that don’t celebrate or are single or for whatever reason don’t participate, February 15th is an excellent opportunity to score truckloads of chocolate and candy at discount prices, so….everybody wins.
Seriously, I’ve always been a fan of holidays and one that encourages people to show how much they mean to each other and express a desire to spend their time together is something I don’t think anyone can possibly, reasonably be against.
Valentine's Day? What's that? by Dawn Hosmer
You know how kids born in December, usually aren't huge fans of having a birthday during that month because people give double-duty gifts? Well, that applies to my feelings towards Valentine's Day!
You see, my birthday is February 12th - 2 days before the big day to celebrate love! So, what this means is that I've never gotten designated Valentine's Day gifts - they've always been those double-duty gifts. Or, if I have, I think the giver has really just taken the pile of presents and separated it into two, giving me some for my birthday and some for Valentine's Day.
I'm not opposed to the idea of Valentine's Day - having a day dedicated to showing our love to those important to us. I just wish it would be in April or something. One of my favorite things to do for my birthday is have a getaway with my husband to a cabin deep in the woods, somewhere far away from everyone and everything. Because my birthday is around a holiday, guess what that means? Finding a cabin is nearly impossible because everyone wants to go squirrel away somewhere with their lover for the weekend. Or, if we do find once, it's at peak rate because of the holiday. So, we're always stuck going away either way before or way after my birthday. Which kind of sucks because I'm a bit of a baby and love to celebrate birthdays on the actual day, not later (whether it's mine or someone else's).
I must also admit that I'm not an overly lovey-dovey, sentimental, romantic person. I believe we show people that are important to us how we feel by our every day actions and words. I don't think it should be reserved for one big show-off type day. I like flowers anytime of year, not just February 14th. And chocolate...bring it on!
To sum it up, Valentine's Day and I aren't really friends and it will probably stay that way. Unless it decides to move to June or something and stop stealing my birthday thunder!
Oh How I Love Valentine's Day by Anna Stokes
Oh how I love Valentine's Day!!!! Anything that focuses on love, chocolate and flowers, count me in. Some of my most memorable Valentine's days have been celebrated in Phoenix. One year my neighbor and I were both single and decided to have a girls night out. We dressed up and took each other out to dinner for gourmet pizza and wine. Lots and lots of wine. Then I met Jason and we've had some really fun adventures. He had only been in AZ a few months and I got the idea to go camping out in the desert for our 1st Valentine's Day. It showed just how much opposites attract. Here we are in the middle of nowhere, primitive camping and sitting around a campfire when the subject came up that I had never seen Star Wars. **Crickets** I knew I'd said something horrible. But, to be fair, he didn't like Lord of the Rings. What!?!?! So there's that. Next thing I knew his laptop was queued up with Star Wars and we kicked back in the tent and I finally experienced the movie that came out the year I was born. I liked it and eagerly watched all the rest. And I apparently passed some sort of test I wasn't aware of. Must be some secret dude code. Every year afterwards has been great, full of chocolate, flowers, mushy cards and a few cutesy stuffed animals here & there. I've gotta say Jason is truly a loving guy and I admire his bravery for taking on the challenges that come with me. He deals with 4 crazy cats and has never blinked at the unknowns of living with someone with Multiple Sclerosis. This Valentine's day I'm grateful for another year together with my brave and sweet Jason. And to all the Gestalt crew, you are so talented. Much love to you all.
S.V.D by Ryen Lesli
Saint Valentine’s Day: a commercialized holiday filled with candy hearts, stuffed animals, and cheap gifts that’ll buy love for the lonely. (Or, something equally pathetic—I mean—poetic.)
I’ve always had a severe dislike for S.V.D and anything associated with it.
Well, maybe not the candy.
It’s not the holiday’s fault though. See, Winter has been always a dark time for me, ever since I was little. I’m a Witch of the Sun and am forever drawn to his violent heat, so, by the time February comes around, I’m ready to rip someone’s fucking head off. In the south, Winter keeps us prisoner in a hell of cold, unforgiving rain. With everything dead around me, my darkness gets unbearable. So, whenever I go into the store and see that Valentine’s Day has thrown up alll over it? Yea, I get mad rage, buy five bags of candy and leave all cranky.
Anyways, that’s my witchy take on this ancient, Christian holiday. Ignore me, I’m just here for the candy.
Blessings & Curses, whichever you have coming for you, and as always, your dark Witch.