[Originally Posted on Feb 13, 2013]
As I think about what to do for my fiance and our kids for tomorrow’s annual celebration of all things red and heart-shaped, I wonder, too, about what it all stands for. If I say, “Oh, it’s no big deal, we show our love every day,” one tends to choke on the sugar. Likewise, to buy the biggest (and, therefore, most expensive) card, is to recognize that the effort is major overkill, and quite frankly, a big waste of money. Money that could be better spent enjoying a filet mignon or lobster dinner. Lobsters are red, after all. Well, when they’re cooked, they are. And, if you order the filet rare, as it should be ordered, well, that’s blood red, too.
So, how does someone in love demonstrate publicly (because isn’t everything, today, publicized?) their love for that one true, special somebody who they have either chosen to spend their lives with and simply couldn’t possibly live without — or in the case of being stuck with someone because maybe they once were in love, but now just stick around for the false Valentine’s Day offer of the love that once was — show to the waiting world what one considers acceptable, maybe passionate, love-torn proof? And, as difficult to make sense of that sentence is, so is our love — and so is the answer.
However, because I do choose to spend my life with the one, true special someone I simply couldn’t possibly live without, I will, most likely…buy chocolate!
Who doesn’t love chocolate? And, flowers? And music? And dinner? Especially in a French restaurant! Filet Mignon is French!
So, whether it’s succumbing to the pretense of showing the world how much you love your somebody or genuinely thirsting to quench any question of the depths of your desire, you can never go wrong with something heart-shaped and red.
That’s here, of course. (Here being the States.) Let’s consider some other traditions from around the world. I found on the most wonderful little website, Penumbra from the UK — novareinna.com (http://www.novareinna.com/festive/valworld.html) some other Saint Valentine’s Day rituals.
And, in giving full credit to this very cool site-source, I can honestly say, that if I choose to do otherwise (not the standard chocolate option I so quickly chose above), then some of these others may just make the difference in making the distinction between what we choose to do versus what we are expected to do.
For example, in “Italy, Valentine’s Day was once celebrated as a Spring Festival, held in the open air, where young people would gather in tree arbors or ornamental gardens to listen to music and the reading of poetry. However, over the course of the years, this custom steadily ceased and has not now been celebrated for centuries. In Turin, it was formerly the custom for betrothed couples to announce their engagements on February 14. For several days ahead of time, the stores would be decorated and filled with all manner of bon-bons.” (Personal note: as my fiance is 100 percent Italian, that would indicate that tomorrow, February 14th we could stretch this a bit and actually pick a date for the wedding.)
And,”In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on two different dates…February 14 and March 14. On the first date, the female gives a gift to the male and on the second date…known as White Day and supposedly introduced by a marshmallow company in the 1960s…the male has to return the gift he received on February 14. Thus, strictly speaking, a Japanese female has the luxury of actually choosing her own gift. Chocolate is the most popular gift in Japan. However, since most Japanese females believe that store-bought chocolate is not a gift of true love, they tend to make the confection with their own hands.” — Ah, see, we’re back to chocolate!!
“During the Australian gold rush period, miners who were suddenly in possession of money from the new-found wealth of the Ballarat Mines were willing to pay a princely sum for elaborate valentines and merchants in the country would ship orders amounting to thousands of pounds at a time. The most extravagant Australian valentines were made of a satin cushion, perfumed and decorated in an ornate manner with flowers and colored shells. Some might even be adorned with a taxidermy-ed humming bird or bird of paradise. This treasure, contained within a neatly decorated box, was highly valued, being both fashionable and extremely expensive.”
Whichever convention you fancy…just remember that it’s only one day a year – and you have 364 others to show the person you love … your love.