Archived Story

Celebrate love beyond Valentine’s Day

Published 11:40am Thursday, February 7, 2013

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I see red.

No, really – since early January, stores’ shelves have become dominated by every shade of red known to man.

Fluffy stuffed animals mingle in with the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and bouquets of roses (red, naturally).

And while I certainly appreciate the economic boon the holiday brings to the area, encouraging people to eat in local restaurants and shop in local stores, I couldn’t help but wonder how this greeting card holiday arose in the first place.

After a little research, I found that Saint Valentine’s Day was originally a Christian holiday celebrating several Saint Valentines martyred about 200 years after the birth of Christ. It evolved during the 1300s, thanks to a little help from Geoffrey Chaucer (best known for the Canterbury Tales), into an association with romantic love.

That idea was perpetuated throughout the years in the writings of Renaissance greats such as Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and John Donne, with the standard Valentine’s Day greeting card emerging around the turn of the 19th century.

And, as they say, the rest is history.

In principle, I appreciate the idea of a day dedicated to celebrating your loved ones – friends, family and significant others alike.

My problem with the holiday lies in its manufactured nature.

I’m not one to be wooed by a giant teddy bear with “XOXO” emblazoned across its pink belly. Maybe it’s the thought that counts, but love doesn’t come to mind when I think of factory workers in a foreign country, working furiously to stitch the aforementioned hugs and kisses message on the poor teddy bear’s chest, piling it up with hundreds of its brothers before being shipped to our local box stores.

I have to admit I also see red when I see commercials for jewelry stores around February. I like jewelry as much as the next girl, but, contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.

The idea that it’s expected of a man to drop hundreds of dollars on his lady simply because it’s Valentine’s Day is ridiculous. If he feels strongly about making a significant purchase like jewelry, why couldn’t he do that in April, or July, or on a date that’s more meaningful to the couple?

I think we’d all be better served by showing our loved ones constant affection throughout the year and not because it’s dictated by a date on a calendar.

So buy your honey that present, treat them to a nice meal and give them some chocolate on Valentine’s Day next week.

And then do it again. And again. And again.

And don’t do it simply because society tells you to – do it because you want to.

As Charles Schulz said, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.