Those of you who actually know me know that I’m not exactly a big Valentine’s Day fan. No, it’s not because I’m single (though that doesn’t help); it’s because I see it as nothing more than a “Hallmark” holiday, designed to encourage Americans to spend their money. Upon doing a little research and actually gaining a little more insight, I can see that I’m right! Gone are the days of simply telling someone you love them; now you have to spend a small fortune to show it. We’ve (meaning American’s) turned a beautiful story -albeit a legend- into an all out spending war with jacked up flower prices and $5 greeting cards.
St. Valentine’s Day is largely shrouded in a cloak of mystery; yet, people around the globe spend billions of dollars every year to shower their loves in cards, flowers, and candy. The question, though, is why? What do we actually know about it?
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and outlawed marriage. Valentine, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
Another legend suggested that Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him during imprisonment. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
In truth, the Catholic religion recognizes three different patron saint Valentines, all of whom were martyred. While the truth behind the Valentine legends is largely folktale, the stories all emphasize Valentine as a sympathetic, heroic, and (perhaps most importantly) a romantic figure.
It wasn’t until the early 1900’s where the now mass produced greeting cards began to hit the shelves, replacing the then traditional hand-written notes. In 2015, there were an estimated one billion Valentines cards produced and purchased in the U.S. (History.com) and a jarring 4 billion dollars spent on flowers and candy (CNN.com). For 2016, it’s predicted that each U.S. citizen will spend an average of $150 on the holiday (MSNBC.COM).
So on this Valentine’s Day I challenge you all to put away your wallet and simply tell those you love what they mean to you. DO something for them instead of buying something for them; let’s go back a couple thousand years and do St. Valentine proud.