The holiday currently known as Valentine’s Day originated from the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February dating back to 300BC. The festival celebrated the coming of spring and included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery and sacrificing a dog or a goat and using its skin to whip women, an act that was believed to increase their fertility - and we wonder why women are still fighting for equal rights today, hmmm? At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius of the Roman Catholic Church replaced Lupercalia, which he believed was a pagan holiday, with St. Valentine's Day. As part of the new Valentine's festivities, Pope Gelasius introduced the idea of the ancient blind date - men’s and women’s names were drawn via a lottery and randomly matched to spend the holiday together. If they ended up liking each other at the end of the feast, they would marry soon after.
Valentine's Day Today
So compared to the origination of Valentine's Day, what is the holiday today? What has it become and what is its significance? During the 17th and 18th centuries, the holiday began resembling its modern look and feel. The common folk of the time began the exchanging of cards and small gifts to show their love and affection, while the wealthy engaged in more extravagant activities and elaborate gift-giving as a token of their affection. In America, as consumerism and print marketing simultaneously began to increase, along with it so did the over-consumerism of holidays and Valentine's Day is one of them.
Over the next few decades, the modern marketing machine of America started churning out more and more reasons to become part of the game by convincing consumers that the only way to express love for their partner was by purchasing extravagant gifts and lavishing them with consumer-based affection once a year, and the annual game of Valentines Merchandise was born.
My first exposure to Valentine's Day was, of course, my parents. They rarely spoke to each other unless in an argument, however, every year my father would dutifully buy my mom something of great insignificance and very little forethought. So I was trained like a dog that this was the thing to do. In turn, when I was of age, every Valentine's Day I would save all my lawn mowing money and buy my girlfriend something too of traditional insignificance - feeding the marketing consumer mechanism.
This sort of mentality stuck with me for part of my adult life too. There's a reason I say "part of", so keep that in mind. When I got married, I made sure every year we went out and did the typical Valentine's Day celebration. I’d buy her a teddy bear, a box of chocolates and take her to a restaurant that hiked up the price 300% just to take advantage of the schmucks that would come out and celebrate the, dare I say it, fake holiday.
What Valentine's Day Really Is
Let's get down to the concept that can be hard to swallow. Valentine's Day really should be called "consumerism day" because if we're being honest, it was created by the ideation around the economics of capturing people's knee-jerk reaction around love and pulling on those heartstrings to create more cash.
Does this remind you of any other holiday? Maybe... Christmas?
The thing is though, I never really truly loved someone in terms of a romantic relationship until after I had been divorced, even though when I was married to that person and I was doing all the lovey-dovey Valentine's Day stuff. Perplexing..
So for me, Valentine’s Day is just a fraud. It’s a fake holiday invented for no other reason but to make money. Off of us. I have an alternative suggestion though - if you're in a relationship with someone, why not live every day to celebrate them in some small way every single day?
A Concept: Valentine's Day All Year?
To show your loved one(s) you care every single day, doesn’t have to be economical. It can be shown in physical affection or even non-physical affection; perhaps consider bringing home a bouquet of flowers on just any random day for no reason whatsoever and without any conditional expectations in return. Or sending a random text message to your lover here and there just to let them know that you were thinking about them and if you want to turn it up a notch, send them something sexy like "I really love what you wore last night, I'd like to see you in that again soon."
Here's a "crazy" suggestion - if you don't normally do the cooking or if you typically eat out, how about taking a few minutes to look up some quick recipes on Pinterest and make your significant other a surprise meal? Add in some of his/her favorite music, get yourself dressed up a bit, grab some flowers, and this little gesture will go a long way. If you want to amp it up even more, draw a nice bath or have some nice wine ready for after dinner so you can comfortably wind down. Again, this is all just to show you care and acknowledge that the other person probably had a long day. It shouldn't feel like work setting this up for your lover if you actually appreciate them.
These little things add up and will be greatly appreciated which will have a trickle-down effect for other areas of your relationship. These year long Valentine's day things will be a reminder of why and when you first fell in love.
It shouldn't be about about one single day, it should be about an accumulation of consistent regular daily acts of kindness and compassion and love. It’s doing things like:
going grocery shopping together - don't wait in the car
Rubbing your partners feet at the end of a long day
Giving them an unexpected massage
Sending them flowers on a random day, or all the time
buying a small plant
Leaving them small notes letting them know you're thinking of them
Doing the laundry for them
The list goes on and on...the ideas should never run dry. Just. Don't. Think. Of. Yourself.
My final opinion? I think people get so caught up in the idea that they have to do something so that there is a cascading conditional effect on it. For example, if I cook her dinner she’ll give me sex or if I buy her a ring she’ll marry me. I propose that in lieu of conditional knee-jerk reactions around love, we spend more time promulgating kindness and affection for each other on a daily basis. It goes so much further and will make you feel so much better doing things for other people as opposed to just thinking about yourself and satisfying what society tells you to do for a holiday.
How do you feel about this? How do you show your lover the attention they deserve throughout the year?