By KAREN HAYES
Every 365 days an entire year’s worth of love and devotion culminate into one 24-hour span. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and those struck by Cupid’s arrows-of-affection will celebrate their romance through countless thoughtful gifts and loving gestures. Women look forward to their partners’ expression of chivalry typically manifested through gifts of flowers or chocolates and dinner reservations.
However, as many couples fawn over each other and rejoice in their love-filled relationships Feb. 14 has been dubbed a “Hallmark holiday” by those disapproving its financial impositions. Companies inflate the cost of flowers, chocolates and other common Valentine’s Day gifts for what seems like a mere 24 hours in order to exploit the obligatory thoughtfulness of men and women.
Interestingly, this thoughtfulness often travels to its neighbourhood florist hand-in-hand with a complete unawareness of where the holiday originated and why.
As with many celebrated holidays, Valentine’s Day carries a rich history. Celebrated in the 21st century Feb. 14 is the evolution of pagan and religious traditions in combination with medieval folklore, History Television, Canada’s foremost historical documentary network, says on its website, www.history.ca.
Over 2,500 years ago the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia on Feb. 15, honouring purification, renewal and Juno, the goddess of fertility. During this festival male participants drew the name of their prospective lover for the following year, History Television reported.
Eradicated in AD 496, the festival of Lupercalia was replaced with a day of celebration for St. Valentine. According to the historical network, boys and girls drew the names of saints who would serve as their spiritual guides.
Medieval folklore attributes Valentine’s Day as the day birds chose their mates and began the mating season. During the late 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer referenced the birds and their believed connection with Feb. 14 in his poem The Parliament of Fowls.
And year after year Aphrodite’s son Cupid has orchestrated each love-at-first sight encounter and connection that might give eHarmony or Match.com a run for their money.
And so, while the love-centred holiday has been reinforced and celebrated for innumerable generations a colossal dollar sign could stand in representation of what has been spent on Valentine’s Day since its beginnings.
In protest to the monetary injustice of Feb. 14, can we not express our affections for one another through more financially modest gestures? Consider that perhaps a gift requiring your time rather than your cheque book is a greater indicator of your unwavering commitment to each other.
For those who have escaped that dollar sign’s immense shadow the importance of distinguishing and honouring the love we share for one another still remains. Make your loved ones feel cherished and appreciated year-round and the pressures of Valentine’s Day might not seem so heavy next year.