The world of commerce sure knows how to make money through the commercialization of what were once religious celebrations and feast days. Consider first of all Christmas, where a flashing credit card helps us celebrate the birth of the Christ.
I am fond of saying; tis a long way from the manger. Then there is Easter. In Christian thought it is the greatest miracle of them all. Crucifixion, death, and triumph with Christ rising from His tomb; back from the dead. That observance and celebration has morphed at the checkout into Easter bunnies and eggs both made of chocolate.
There are then too the minor Christian feasts like All Hallows Eve, aka Halloween, which brings in a few nice dollars in the till in October. The current focus of our attention today however is the feast of St. Valentine and all it has become. Welcome to the 21st century.
Valentine’s Day is washing over us but in the interest of full disclosure I tell you I’m not upset by it all. I have come to accept the day more as a celebration of love and courting rather than some obscure saint’s special day. In a world of non-verbal communication, you can express your love without a word and “Say it with flowers” or trust Coutts-Hallmark greeting cards to express your feelings; “Because you cared enough to send the very best.”
I do send flowers myself. That’s my style. Once when my wife was still working at the Herald, I had a dozen white roses delivered to her workplace.
When Judy came home that night she asked if I had been drinking. I was just trying to say something. It’s easier at Valentine’s really. You can do something meaningful and express an important emotion without seeming corny.
When I was a young man, “love hearts” were all the rage. Remember those? They were English sweets manufactured by Swizzels Matlow Ltd, the confectioners in London. They have been making “love hearts” since the middle of the last century but even those candies have their roots in an even older confection named “conversation sweets.”
The little heart shaped candies had little messages on them like Be Mine or All Yours. They are still very much available as a confection in this modern age. I think if I gave my missus little heart shaped candies that said Be Mine she would burst out laughing.
Naturally there are lots of other ways to spend your money in a Valentine’s Day greeting. There are Valentine’s cards, Hallmark and otherwise, with mawkish messages about Til’ the end of time. Cards go way back to the English-speaking world of the 19th century. Then there is the big seller; chocolate. There is nothing like a box of chocolates to express your love. The fact that it contributes to weight gain or a stroke doesn’t matter. You are saying something important. It is a nonverbal expression of love. We all do that sometimes don’t we?