Their was a hilarious commercial that aired during the Super Bowl last week in which a woman takes her time looking through all the cards at a gift shop, trying to pick just the right one for her boyfriend. The boyfriend on the other hand picked out a card while waiting in line at a convenience store where he buys a six pack of Budweiser. That's the type of meaning I invest in Valentine's.
The candy is the only thing I like about St. Valentine's Day. Most of the rest, including the trimmings, flowers, hearts and empty emotional statements, I can't stand.
The true meaning of Valentine's, like the true meaning of Christmas, long ago became lost in a blizzard of commercialism. But at least Christmas has retained some semblance of its religous roots in the way people celebrate the holiday. People still commorate the birth of Christ. But Valentine's is little more than an excuse for stores to dress their windows in pink and for candymakers to peddle their sweets.
Few revelers in this day and age know who Saint Valentine was. According to HistoryChannel.com there were three Valentines that the Catholic Church recognizes as Saints. The one most closely associated with February 14th was a priest who supposedly lived in Rome during the third century.
Legend has it that when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men - so that they could serve in the army - Valentine protested and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. When authorities found out, Claudius sentenced him to death. Other legends also state that Valentine helped Christians escape from Roman jails.
While Valentine languished in prison, he allegedly fell in love with the jailer's daughter, according to stvalentines.net. Before he died he wrote her a letter signed, "from your Valentine."
Valentine's Day as we currently know it emerged in the 17th century. By mid-18th century, lovers commonly exchanged tokens of affection on February 14th. In the 1840s Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced Valentines in America, according to HistoryChannel.com
And so another religious holiday was set aside for the purpose of exploiting people's emotions, morals and wallets. Cupid has taken precedence as the day's unofficial mascot, much like Santa Claus has for Christmas.
No entity better characterizes the empty meaning that the word "love" has taken in modern day America than Valentine's Day. Lovers send candy hearts and letters proclaiming their eternal love for one another, and a year later they are broken up.
Love is a sacred thing, but as defined by Valentines Day, it is a product manufactured by corporate America, to be sold and bought like any other consumer good.
For me Valentine's will be like any other day of the week. I'll come into the office, open my mail and sort through the story assignments. I won't send out any flowers or any cards, and the only candy I will buy will be for myself.
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