The Heart of the Matter

Valentine’s Day is this week. The elementary children were very excited on Tuesday. Each child created a custom Valentine box using recycled materials to hold all of the Valentines and candy from their friends and teachers at school. All of the children had a wonderful time afterschool sharing different Valentines and reading the messages of caring and friendship from other children. There is the tradition of giving out cards, candy, and flowers to our loved ones on this special day but what are the origins of Valentines Day?

To fulfill my curiosity about the origins of Valentines Day, I did a little research. In the beginning Valentine’s Day started as a Christian observance honoring a Roman priest who was martyred and is celebrated in many Christian traditions as Saint Valentines Day. There are several other stories and traditions associated with Valentines Day. The connection of Valentines Day to modern themes of romance and love date back to 1382 and a poem by Chaucer called The Parliament of Fowls. Our modern customs of candy, gifts, and flowers started in the United Kingdom.

In 1847 the first Valentine cards were produced in the United States. The estimate is that 190 million cards are shared each year and another 15 million e-cards are sent to inboxes everywhere. From the origins of the Valentine card it is now common to give candy, flowers, fancy dinners, and jewelry to our loved ones on this day. The average spending on Valentine’s Day is $136.00 per person and 19.7 billion dollars annually in the United States. After I learned some of the history about the holiday I wondered if we could use this day to create a different history?

Valentine’s Day being in early February follows the traditional holiday season. The end of October and Halloween starts the holiday season. Thanksgiving is the holiday that signals the beginning of food, friends, family and shopping. The holidays in December are a time of gathering with family and celebrating our family traditions. We bond with our loved ones by sharing food, stories, and gifts. New Years Day is a time of renewal and goal setting for the coming year. The Super Bowl starts off February and even though it is not an official holiday, it is a big event for many people. All of these holidays are great but is it possible that Valentine’s Day could become the holiday that celebrates us all?

I want to propose a new type of celebration during Valentine’s Day. To start off the new year and move toward Spring renewal I want to suggest in addition to all of the cards, candy, and flowers we as a people use Valentine’s Day to celebrate us, as in humanity. There is much anger and negative talk among many people of the world today. Much of it centers on politics and the policies of our new President but we have a choice of how we treat each other in spite of any political leader.

I propose that we use this and every Valentine’s Day to show true unconditional love to all people. Not by saying it by doing it. This means many of our words, thoughts, and actions will have to change. The day of love and caring can be a time to hug a stranger, help those in need, call a friend you have lost touch with, and thank people in our community who help us everyday. We could use the day of love to share love in our community and help out wherever we are needed. The word for this is altruism that is defined by Webster as “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.”

We could choose to make this one day a time to share the best of ourselves in one gigantic party of loving and giving to others. Then after this great day of love and caring the seeds will be planted to continue these acts until the next Valentine’s Day, where we will once again come together as a people to remember the reason we are all together. We are here to care for one another, be grateful for what we have, and to share our gifts with others expecting nothing in return. If this became the reason for a day of love, then I believe this new tradition would have a greater impact on humanity than any card, candy, or flower will ever have.