Sunday, February 14, 2016

A little history and why I don't want gifts on Valentine's Day

Today is St Valentine’s Day. A day for lovers. A day of roses and chocolates. The advertisements are over the place. Its big business for florists, chocolate companies and more many more retailers who are urging men, in particular, to go out and find the perfect gift. But who is St. Valentine. The story of the patron saint is shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church actually recognizes three saints called Valentine although only one is honored on February 14th. Even the origins of our Valentine’s Day traditions are mysterious. And why I don’t want any gifts on Valentine’s Day.  

Valentine is emphasized as a sympathetic, heroic and romantic figure. There are two legends that I could find which tell the story of St. Valentine. One legend says that Valentine was a priest in 3rd century Rome when Emperor Claudius II (268-270) decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. It is said that he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the emperor and continued to perform marriages in secret. When Claudius discovered this, he had Valentine put to death. However, there is no evidence that Claudius ever made such a decree and it is unlikely that he would. First, marriage was seen as beneficial to society. Second, military service was voluntary and the poor often joined the army for the steady income Lastly, Claudius was also known as Claudius Gothicus spent his very short reign fighting the Goths. He would have been far too busy with war to pursue the alleged policy. Another legend states that Valentine was imprisoned and executed for attempting to free Christians from torture in Roman prisons. He sent the “first valentine” after he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Before his death, he signed his letter, “From your Valentine.”

There have been claims that the observance of St. Valentine’s Day has its origin in a Roman pagan festival. Lupercalia was celebrated on February 13-15th. It is a fertility festival decided to Faunus, the god of agriculture and Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus. According to legend, all the women in a village would place their name in an urn and the city’s bachelors would chose a name and the two would be paired together for one year. The matches often ended in marriage. The festival would be outlawed with the rise of Christianity by Pope Gelasius who declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. This date is said to be the date which Valentine was buried. There are also claims that the link to romantic love and St Valentine’s Day was made by Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) in his poem, Parlement of Foules (1382). He wrote this poem in celebration of the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. He wrote, “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” There have been much debate about the truth of this. Regardless of the origins of Valentine’s Day traditions, it translates to big business. Valentine’s Day generates approximately $ 13 billion profits.

Now comes the not for fun part of my blog. I can almost hear retailers scream and other women call me crazy. I don’t ask or expect gifts on Valentine’s Day and here’s why. First, to relieve my husband of the obligation. I don’t like my husband to give me fancy and expensive gifts just because a calendar says so. I know my husband loves me. I don’t need a card to tell me so. Plus, I enjoy the bouquet of roses better when they are given “just because” rather than as an expectation. Second, the pressure! I googled “why I don’t want gifts for Valentine’s Day” and I got results which didn’t match my search at all. I got what women really want on Valentine’s Day and what not to give for Valentine’s Day. One site suggested that household appliances is a horrible gift. Now, my husband knows me. He know that I love to cook and bake, so why would buying me a something that I could use in that capacity a horrible gift?.Also, I don’t want jewelry. I wear very little jewelry. My wedding ring is my only constant piece which I wear on a daily basis. I have plenty of other rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. I don’t need more. Third, why the focus and the pressure on men? Why aren’t women advertised to about gifts? Men enjoy romance too.

Day of love and romance has become another reason for a sale. Another reason to pressure men to buy expensive flowers, jewelry and chocolates. Our love for our partners should be celebrated and honored every day. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, give gifts from your heart. Don’t break the bank to get the expensive gift because you think you have to. Think about the person who you are buying the gift for and think what he/she would like and/or want. I may be unconventional when I say I don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. I truly don’t. I’m a simple women with simple wishes. I may be in the minority on this but I feel that gifts given in obligation spoils the gift. However, you celebrate today, do so with love and affection.