by Judy M McCutcheon
Is Valentine’s Day still a love thing? Seriously, all you need to do is look at those commercials and you would know it’s more about money than love.
How many of us really know the origin of this day of love? Well, the way I understand it, the origin of this day is dark and bloody and the feminists among us would be appalled. Based on my research, no one could identify the actual start of the holiday, but legend has it that it began in Rome around the 3rd century AD. Now, there are two stories that combine to make this day of romance and chocolate. The first story says that between 13–15 February the Romans celebrated the fertility festival of Lupercalia, where the men would sacrifice a goat and a dog and use the hide from the slain animals to ‘gently ‘whip the women. Legend has it that the women would line up along the streets to be whipped – the start of 50 Shades of Gray perhaps? Anyway, and this I am guessing is the romantic part, a matchmaking lottery would be drawn which coupled men and women for the rest of the festival or who knows maybe longer if the match was right. The other legend has it that on 14 February, Emperor Claudius II executed a young priest named Valentine, for his defying his orders and conducting secret marriages. The martyrdom of the young priest was honoured by the Catholic church as St Valentine’s day, and sometime later Pope Gelasius I combined both festivals and ‘voila’, Valentine’s Day was born.
If this is at least part of the origin, I don’t know if I want to celebrate this as a day of love, maybe just the whipping part. Oh, and according to the legend, there were lots of stripping and nakedness during the festivities. But of course, being the capitalist that we are in the western world, we must find a way to capitalise and make as much money as we can from all of this. And being the romantics that we are as it relates to spending our money on gifts to symbolise our love, we get sucked into it all. Valentine’s Day is now a billion-dollar business and somewhere in there, we must blame poets like Shakespeare for romanticising the day and putting a ‘love’ spin on it.
Unfortunately, this day of love is going to you cost big time. Valentine’s Day like most holidays has been hijacked by clever marketers who commercialised it. According to a recent report, it is estimated that just about US$20 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day related items. So, let’s see, after all the fancy three-course dinners – and most restaurants will have fixed priced dinners; the sparkling jewellery, lunches, roses, wines, and champagne, you could spend on average just about US$500. And this amount does not include the new outfit. I am not against the love and romance of it all, I just want you to have your priorities in order. Remember, the rent and mortgage still must be paid, and the kids still need to get to school. Let us not do things just because everyone else is doing it.
What about the single ladies, how are you going to be spending the day? Are you going to be moping around the house feeling sorry for yourself? Are you going to spend it in a SAD (Single Awareness Day) way – dining alone, buying yourself chocolate and wine or maybe celebrating the festival of Lupercalia, in a modern way? Being alone on Valentine’s Day may remind you of the love you no longer have but whatever you do, do not feel sorry for yourself. It’s okay to be single on Valentine’s Day, it’s a day of love, so why not use the day as intended and celebrate loving yourself. Use the day to reflect and plan your life moving forward; see it as a day of new beginnings. Make a date with your other single girlfriends, cook a lovely meal, and invite your friends. Nothing’s wrong with buying yourself some flowers and chocolates or going to the movies. It’s important that you not be sad on Valentine’s Day, instead, you should celebrate you, and your choices. To you my married or otherwise hitched friends, have fun, enjoy being in love on this day, but please don’t break the bank doing so. Keep in mind that one day is not enough to create lasting passion, it is a continuous effort. Oh, and if you really are in the gift-giving mode, just letting you know that I like pearls. Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net
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