Monday, February 14, 2011

I Am Blaming It All On Hallmark

Valentine's Day is a feast day in honor of the martyred Saint Valentine . . . er 14 saints named Valentine. Oh, and not a feast day since 1969. Not a saint either? Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name. Rome? If he died in Rome how did he rid Ireland of snakes? And what does this have to do with love?

Off to Wiki: The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime.

Okay, that is a bit closer to love, but no closer to snakes. And how on earth did we get from here to red hearts on doilies? Actually Valentine's day has always been painful to me, as it was to Saint Valentine as records show he (or any of the 14) were stoned on that day. Note: July 6th on the Greek Orthodox calendar.

But I digress. I was the kid for which teachers made the rule that all classmates had to be given a Valentine. We would all count them and then brag for days who got the most. I never got the least but I got little enough that I truly felt for who got the least and generally gave all of mine to him or her so I could go home without these paper hearts as reminders of my lack of worth.

College got even worse. Dorm life was hell for days before as everyone fretted it their boyfriends would send them flowers and for days after as we had to endure the displays of roses or carnations in the rooms. Even proffered candies in the common room were mere opportunities for the gifted to show off. See what I got and you didn't. I won't even go into corporate cubicle life on February 14th. There should be a rule that flowers and cards have to be sent to the home and not the work place.

Eastern mercantile companies made Christmas the garish display it became. There were no Christmas cards before they got into the corporate profit margin.  So I am going to blame Hallmark cards on all my years of broken hearts. And Russell Stover's chocolates in heart shaped boxes. And FTS florists. Too bad we cannot just stone them, put them on a liturgical calendar to be erased and move on.


  1. Great blog, though I am pretty sure the snake item was Saint Patrick, totally unrelated. You wrote:'I was the kid for which teachers made the rule that all classmates had to be given a Valentine.' This is exactly why I wrote on FB that I am intensely grateful to have been spared Valentine's Day in childhood. It is celebrated in Holland now, but it is a recent import. It has NO meaning for me whatsoever. I did a blog on it a while back, re-posted it on Multiply, and just to make it easier for you just put it on Rants and Ruminations.

  2. Yes, Ien, it was St. Patrick. Though I understand Ireland never had snakes - saint or no saint.

    Thank you for setting me straight

  3. I went and did a bit of research and didn't come up with anything different.

    I do not and have never understood the obsession with Valentine's Day and spent a last Monday posting ad nauseam that I don't do St Valentine's. It was never a big thing whilst I was growing up and not a 'feast day' that Brits took much notice of. I was shocked when I cane here and there was so much hype - they get it from the US.

    I do remember once in the UK my husband sending me two dozen red roses which I thought was quite charming. But he didn't need st V's Day to do that - there wee always surprises and treats. However o the particular occasion there was a twist. When I went to the florist at the end of the month to pay my bill I remarked it was higher than usual. She smirked and said 'Richard put your Valentine roses on your bill'!! Oh well - we have a joint bank account!!

    Yes it was St P!!

  4. With apologies for all typos - excuse is that presently functioning on minus zero tolerance and fingers are clenched in anger! God preserve me from idiots! Nothing to do with Blogland I might add.

  5. Okay that is twice in three days that tolerance has been brought up. At one time in my life I really wanted patience. And a very learned friend of mine said patience could not be had without tolerance.

    I do not suffer fools gladly but that is another blog


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