Today’s newspaper is filled with ads and articles related to next Tuesday, Valentine’s Day. Recipes, gift ideas, clothing for romantic dates, it’s all there to help us remember that we’re expected to participate in commercial activity in honour of … love?
I am pretty much allergic to commercial holidays, and as far as I’m concerned, this one is one of the worst.
According to my new favorite oracle, Chat GPT:
“Valentine’s Day has a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The holiday is named after Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest who lived in the third century. According to one popular legend, Saint Valentine secretly married couples in love during a time when the Roman Empire had banned marriages in order to have more soldiers for their wars.”
Hmm. So how does that link to conspicuous consumption?
“Another popular legend associated with Saint Valentine is that he wrote the first “valentine” card while imprisoned for performing marriages in secret. Some believe that he wrote a letter to a young girl who visited him in prison, signing it “From your Valentine.” This letter is considered to be one of the first Valentine’s Day cards.”
Okey dokey. Here we go, I wonder who started that popular legend?
Apparently, then, commercial interests took over. As they do.
“Over time, Valentine’s Day evolved into a holiday that celebrates love and affection between intimate companions. Today, it is a popular holiday in many countries, marked by the exchange of cards, flowers, and gifts between loved ones. Despite its commercialization, many people still see it as an opportunity to express their love and affection for their partners, friends, and family.”
I’m all in favour of expressing love and affection between mutually consenting parties. But it ticks me off that the process has been appropriated by purveyors of cheesy greeting cards, tacky gifts, over-priced restaurant meals and imported flowers with a frightening carbon footprint.