February 14th, 2017
Happy Valentine's Day!
Here is a weird thing about me. Sort of like that kid in the movie "Sixth Sense", I see things. I see hearts. I don't mean that I see hearts that aren't actually there, I guess what I mean is that I notice them. Everywhere I go. Like the above shape in that was in the sidewalk while I was taking a walk. Clearly a heart.
Well not an actual heart. I am aware that a real heart is not shaped like this. But it's what we have come to accept as a Valentine shaped heart. And honestly, if you have never noticed, that shape is everywhere. It's not that I actively seek them out, they just are obvious to me. I'm not certain what, if anything that means about me, but I'm sure it's not a bad thing.
Remember back to being a kid in school on Valentine's day? In one of the schools I attended, probably 2nd or 3rd grade judging from where I lived at the time, each kiddo brought a shoe box in to school and during art class, we decorated the absolute heck out of those shoe boxes. Red, White, Pink and sometimes purple construction paper, paper doilies, crayons and scissors flew as created out "valentine mailboxes". Remember the struggle to properly draw a heart shape without making it lopsided? Recall trying to free hand cut out a heart shape? I'm not certain why but at least half of the kids required having their tongue's sticking out to achieve this. I even remember the enormous task of buying the valentine's I would be putting in everyone else's 'mailbox'. So many to choose from. The giant cartoon Bumble Bee who said, "Bee Mine" or the Disney characters saying valentine-ish things, hmmm decisions, decisions. Hey, it was a big deal!
Ahhh memories. Maybe that was when I began to notice heart shapes everywhere. Although I have no photographic proof, I do remember seeing them. Probably back then I thought it was something everyone did. Like valentine's day baking! Sweets for the sweet right? Cookies shaped like hearts, cupcakes decorated with red or pink sprinkles, heart shaped cakes cleverly created from one square and one round cake. Almost as amateurly built as those long ago crayoned ones sadly, but just as well intended, so be nice.
You know, I was given to believe that Valentine's Day was created by greeting card companies. Honestly, I've been hearing that my entire life. Never questioned it. Until now. I kind of felt guilty for always seeing those hearts and for looking so forward to the day of hearts most of my life. I mean, after all, it's kind of juvenile to believe in things that aren't real like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, right?
So naturally, I've done some research. Hey, it's who I am, it's what I do. Yes, we all know about St. Valentine. Did you know that there was more than one? Yup. Not much is known about most of them well except to be a saint pretty much means coming to an untimely and painful end. Being a saint is a tough row to hoe. Most of the life of the St. Valentine that the day is named after, is a mystery. It was a long time ago. He died in 270 AD after all. But some of the myths surrounding him state that he was jailed for performing weddings in a time when marriages were banned by Emperor Claudius II. The emperor wanted more soldiers and less husbands fighting for him. Others say that never happened and that St. Valentine was merely jailed for being a Christian. Either way, he was jailed and marked for a painful death. The details are impossible to know with any certainty. But they agree that as his end neared he wrote letters to the people he loved. Thus beginning the tradition of sending Valentine Cards.
The feast of St. Valentine became religious day in 496 in his honour which perhaps began the tradition of creating a special meal for Valentine's Day whether dining out or eating in and to stretch it further could be the link to buying or making sweets to observe the day.
It was Chaucer who penned the first poem that we are aware of that mentions Valentine's Day and that was back in the 14th century. He wrote the poem in celebration of a King's engagement. Very Romantic! By the late 1700's Valentine Cards were being printed in England and in the United States they were mass produced by the mid-1800's.
So there you have it. Everything I've ever heard about the creation of Valentine's Day was wrong. It is not a recent commercially created fake day. It's been around for a long time and, by the way, is observed around the world in one way or another. Of course there are some places that specifically do not observe it. I also learned that in Saudi Arabia in both 2002 and 2008, celebration of Valentine's Day was banned as a Christian holiday and anything red was removed from stores. People who chose to observe anyway in defiance of the law were arrested. So in a negative way, Valentine's Day is a big deal, even there.
For me, every day will continue to be a mini-Valentine's Day as I see the hearts that are all around me. Because while love may not make THE world go around, it certainly helps to make my world a better place. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.