DON'T FEAR THE 14TH

By: Tara M. Kerrigan Hayes

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So it's almost Saint Valentine's Day, that looming holiday that fills one with either delight or dread, but oh how it does loom. Let’s face it, it’s an intimidating holiday. With rampant commercialism and social comparison at an all time high, this seemingly harmless little holiday has grown scales, horns, and velociraptor claws. So let’s disarm this bullying beast with a loose timeline of evolution and strip it down to its naked and not so scary self.

Coined after one of three martyred saints named Valentine, no one can say for sure which saint is the true namesake, but we can only hope it was the one most shrouded in romantic mystery. This particular Valentine, so the story goes, fell in love with a blind girl who visited him during his imprisonment, and wrote her a slew of love notes signed, “From your Valentine”, (an expression that stuck). Ultimately he was put to death by beheading, and as legend has it, lovingly restored her eyesight from the beyond the grave. If you say so, legend.

Other historians believe the holiday was meant to replace the pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, which involved naked spankings with goat-blood soaked whips and all sorts of strange fun, but that’s still not half as romantic as pre-decapitation scrawls, so let’s move on.

Now, the actual oldest known written valentine, (displayed in The British Library today), was a poem written by Charles, Duke of New Orleans to his wife while imprisoned in the London Tower, in 1415. Sadly, she died before ever having the chance to read it. We know. More tragedy, more despair. But hey, the Middle Ages were a dreary time, when being in love was a dangerous affair.

It was the height of passionate, frenzied romance for the forlorn. Poison was popped by doomed lovers. Desperados flung themselves from tower tops. Impressive. These days they’d just reactivate their Tinder account and rock on.

Over time, people became a little more rational about romance (how much plummeting can one era sustain?) and eventually, hundreds of years later, Valentine's Day began to catch on in Europe. At first it seemed a fun way for elites to flaunt their writing skills, but then evolved into a tradition where handmade tokens of affection were given not just to lovers, but to family and friends as well (we love this)… as a celebration of LOVE.

Then in the 1840s an entrepreneur named Esther Howland (of Boston) created her own Valentine's Day card industry, followed by the mass production of Valentine's Day cards in 1913 by, you guessed it… Hallmark.

Sadly, everything seems to have unraveled from there. Handwritten notes were pulverized by printed cards, cards replaced by flowers, flowers surpassed by jewelry, jewelry outdone by fancy dinners and now, weekend getaways. With the monetization of Valentine's Day, as with most holidays, the sentiment seems to have escaped us.

Not surprisingly, Europe and other countries are beginning to turn their backs on this lost soul of a holiday, and the idea is a tempting one. But instead of obliterating it, we say let’s reinvent it. Strip it of its stigma and return the holiday to what it was always meant to be - a celebration of LOVE, but not just romantic love. With seven types of love out there, there’s no shortage of worthy places to put all that love you have to give! And let’s remember that gifts don’t need to be tangible. A kind word, a good deed, a smile to a stranger, are all gifts any one of us can bestow.

So this Valentine's Day, celebrate everyone and everything there is to LOVE.

Love your dog, love your music collection, love your mom, love your partner, love your unique talent, love your new lash lift (hint hint). Love that we live in a world where love can be celebrated regardless of gender and race. And if you are dejectedly (or newly) single, LOVE YOUR FREEDOM! Love your personal resilience and precious freedom to reconnect with yourself and rediscover the person you were before you were ever your partner’s partner. Above all, love yourself. And what better way to love yourself the with some well deserved pampering (CLICK HERE)!

So it's almost Saint Valentine's Day, that looming holiday that fills one with either delight or dread, but oh how it does loom. Let’s face it, it’s an intimidating holiday. With rampant commercialism and social comparison at an all time high, this seemingly harmless little holiday has grown scales, horns, and velociraptor claws. So let’s disarm this bullying beast with a loose timeline of evolution and strip it down to its naked and not so scary self.

Coined after one of three martyred saints named Valentine, no one can say for sure which saint is the true namesake, but we can only hope it was the one most shrouded in romantic mystery. This particular Valentine, so the story goes, fell in love with a blind girl who visited him during his imprisonment, and wrote her a slew of love notes signed, “From your Valentine”, (an expression that stuck). Ultimately he was put to death by beheading, and as legend has it, lovingly restored her eyesight from the beyond the grave. If you say so, legend.

Other historians believe the holiday was meant to replace the pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia, which involved naked spankings with goat-blood soaked whips and all sorts of strange fun, but that’s still not half as romantic as pre-decapitation scrawls, so let’s move on.

Now, the actual oldest known written valentine, (displayed in The British Library today), was a poem written by Charles, Duke of New Orleans to his wife while imprisoned in the London Tower, in 1415. Sadly, she died before ever having the chance to read it. We know. More tragedy, more despair. But hey, the Middle Ages were a dreary time, when being in love was a dangerous affair. It was the height of passionate, frenzied romance for the forlorn. Poison was popped by doomed lovers. Desperados flung themselves from tower tops. Impressive. These days they’d just reactivate their Tinder account and rock on.

Over time, people became a little more rational about romance (how much plummeting can one era sustain?) and eventually, hundreds of years later, Valentine's Day began to catch on in Europe. At first it seemed a fun way for elites to flaunt their writing skills, but then evolved into a tradition where handmade tokens of affection were given not just to lovers, but to family and friends as well (we love this)… as a celebration of LOVE.

Then in the 1840s an entrepreneur named Esther Howland (of Boston) created her own Valentine's Day card industry, followed by the mass production of Valentine's Day cards in 1913 by, you guessed it… Hallmark.

Sadly, everything seems to have unraveled from there. Handwritten notes were pulverized by printed cards, cards replaced by flowers, flowers surpassed by jewelry, jewelry outdone by fancy dinners and now, weekend getaways. With the monetization of Valentine's Day, as with most holidays, the sentiment seems to have escaped us.

Not surprisingly, Europe and other countries are beginning to turn their backs on this lost soul of a holiday, and the idea is a tempting one. But instead of obliterating it, we say let’s reinvent it. Strip it of its stigma and return the holiday to what it was always meant to be - a celebration of LOVE, but not just romantic love. With seven types of love out there, there’s no shortage of worthy places to put all that love you have to give! And let’s remember that gifts don’t need to be tangible. A kind word, a good deed, a smile to a stranger, are all gifts any one of us can bestow.

So this Valentine's Day, celebrate everyone and everything there is to LOVE.

Love your dog, love your music collection, love your mom, love your partner, love your unique talent, love your new lash lift (hint hint). Love that we live in a world where love can be celebrated regardless of gender and race. And if you are dejectedly (or newly) single, LOVE YOUR FREEDOM! Love your personal resilience and precious freedom to reconnect with yourself and rediscover the person you were before you were ever your partner’s partner. Above all, love yourself. And what better way to love yourself the with some well deserved pampering (CLICK HERE)!

Susan Devlin