All right, I confess.
I’m one of those old fogies who having witnessed some horrid Valentine’s Day celebrations, long ago and lost my enthusiasm for the holiday.
It’s the time of the year when ads for special bits of jewelry that profess to be symbols of romance and kissy-face fealty join the red hearts that are displayed, well, everywhere in an effort to inspire true love and retail purchases.
I watch the proceedings and begin to channel Statler from the Muppets’ (or is it Waldorf … which one is the devilishly handsome one?) and can’t resist but reacting with sarcasm and derision.
My favourite mood breaker goes far beyond the usual, somewhat hackneyed references to the day being a Hallmark Holiday.
I go right to the history of Valentine’s Day when Roman priests would sacrifice a dog and a goat, ostensibly to represent purification and fertility.
(As a side note, I suspect it was more because there were lots of goats and dogs around and it was easy to catch the victims. But I digress.)
They would use the bloody hides of the hapless sacrifices and wander around slapping women with the skins to improve fertility.
Not surprisingly, this inspired a very early precursor to the Me Too Movement, when women finally had enough and started slapping back. The priests moved on to the slightly less barbaric practice of picking names out of an urn and coupling the chosen twosome for a year, or until the first time the male in the couple forgot to put the cap on the toothpaste.
As for the good saints named Valentine – there were a dozen of them – it seems that none was known for doing anything particularly romantic. In fact, there’s so much confusion about the Valentines that the Catholic Church discontinued liturgical veneration of St. Valentine in 1969.
Apparently, Hallmark didn’t get the memo.
And although I’d love to pin Valentine’s Day on Hallmark, the fact is North Americans first started exchanging cards back in the early 1700’s.
A woman named Esther Allen Howland got a card on St. Valentine’s Day from a would-be suitor.
He’d created some lace and flower monstrosity and I can only imagine him up to his elbows in craft glue with a dreamy far away look in his eyes.
Esther was unimpressed. She tossed the tacky missive and went to work proving she could make a better card, turning the enterprise into a business.
No word on the fate of the suitor.
Now, although I’m sure the holiday will survive, except for recalling the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, which, come on, was pretty fascinating, the holiday does nothing for me.
But young love will doubtlessly continue and tacky cards, overpriced flowers, and inevitably disappointing romantic gestures will go on well into the future.
Me? I’ll just sit in the balcony and laugh.
Tim Collins is a Sooke News reporter. His wife isn’t expecting a card on Valentine’s Day.