I journeyed to Target in search of leftover Christmas cards four days after the holiday. Instead, I was engulfed in a sea of pink and red decorations, signs and cards. It was the same unsettling feeling that also occurs when people set up Christmas decorations the week before Halloween.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday people either love or hate. It is obvious which sex hates the holiday more – the American Greeting Card Association reported that 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
There are many different legends about the origins of Valentine’s Day, and most involve a martyr named Valentine. After a Roman emperor decided that single men were better soldiers than married men, marriage was outlawed.
But Valentine continued to marry love-stricken couples in secret until he was discovered and put to death. A second story portrays Valentine as a martyr for attempting to help Christians escape cruel Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.
The last and most popular legend is only one director short of becoming a classic love story. The story goes, while in prison, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his incarceration. Before his death, he wrote her a letter to the girl and signed it, “From your Valentine.”
Although Valentine’s Day was declared a holiday in the fifth century, it wasn’t until the 17th century that it began to be celebrated in Great Britain. A hundred years later, the holiday caught on in the United States. But what started with friends and lovers exchanging small tokens of affection or handwritten notes has evolved into the stereotype of red roses and a box of chocolates.
In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. The majority of the world realizes that a country doesn’t need to set aside a certain day for friends or lovers to prove their love for each other. But Valentine’s Day in the United States has transformed into a celebration of couples as opposed to the original concept of appreciating loved ones.
Single females sulk because they don’t have dates while uninspired males could care less. Couples are reminded to tell their significant others that they love one another, which is something that should be done year round anyway.
The Greeting Card Association estimates that one billion valentine cards are sent out each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. One of my Christmas gifts to myself was a 2004 wall calendar.
There are 14 hearts on my calendar for the month of February. Call it girly. Call it commercialized. Just don’t call me the day after Valentine’s Day to tell me that you have seen decorations for the Fourth of July.
Stephanie Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.