Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentines Day, A Childhood Rite of Passage

Today is the day of love, named for the celebration of Saint Valentine.  Though for many of us its merely a marketing experiment gone right, in the light of making money, or getting laid.  So for all you out there getting engaged, celebrating anniversaries, and all around making the most of this day of red, pink, and white enjoy.  To the couples who do things right with wine, flowers, chocolate and a sultry romp in those silk sheets saved for special occasions this day is for you.  Just one tiny little query, why do we only do this one day a year?  Why is it acceptable for a guy to swoon on this one day of the year and romance his sweetheart without reprimand?  Why is a gal walking on cloud nine, clutching that white rose proudly to her chest this one day and only one day a year?

The cynical answer is that as mentioned above, the marketing gods are geniuses.  This is the day to propose, the day to send your love to that secret crush, the day where anything goes and the fear of rejection is at it’s lowest point of the year.  We as a society have learned to give and receive Valentines cards from a very young age, and taught the ever important lessons of being a gracious recipient no matter who the sender is.  It’s a harsh world out there for budding love, but less so on February 14th. 

My earliest memory of this was when I was in grade two, I received a giant Hersey’s kiss from an anonymous sender.  I of course blushed and was quick to divide it up between my friends and eat it without a second thought.  I’m not entirely sure the advice or reprimanding I received when I told my mom of the days events later that evening.  But I remember the following year when I received a gift box of pink cologne and bubble bath from the same anonymous sender that I had to find out who this generous gift giver was.  I found the guy, was a little disappointed, yet I graciously said thank you and gave a quick peck on his cheek.  I knew I made his day, and displayed an appropriate amount of gratitude without going too far.  As evidence of this I did not have to `marry` him in the playground later that day as so many of my girlfriends did.    

This event is what both males and females learn during Valentines Day, the freedom to give gifts to whomever you fancy, and gracious recipients who make you feel like a million bucks.  This is one of our first imprinted memories of dealing with the opposite sex and experiencing their reactions in a public setting.  It`s a deep seeded social experiment and ritual that we have firmly in place.  Remember the kid who had an empty box one year, were you the kid who scribbled your name off of one of your gifts and quickly added it to their box before the tears welled up?  What about the kid who had the box that was overflowing?  Did you feel a twinge of jealousy walking by, wishing you had that level of popularity without knowing what that word meant?  These are the Valentines day rites of passage that children in our society experience and probably have little recollection of just what level of impact this really had.

Generally though we remember our first significant gift, as I do with the giant chocolate and that sets the tone or level of how we give and receive in the future.  I wonder now if the sender had been someone that I liked, would my prerogative on this holiday be different?  Would this day be a day to celebrate and hold in high esteem?  For those who experienced the butterflies at such an early age do you have a greater romantic connection with this holiday?  Or for the kid who received nothing, is this why you hate this day and take such limited risks when it comes to opening your heart and experiencing love?  Whatever this day has meant to you in the past, I encourage all of you to attempt to not allow this day to be a one day a year event.  Give little gifts, letters, or special desserts throughout the year.  Share your love and take a few more risks throughout the year.  Don’t disregard the important lessons of the day, rather have the love, laughter and romance as often as you can.

2 comments:

  1. The virtue of Valentine's Day isn't in the material gifts, it is the love underneath it. Do you know what's better than a Hershey's kiss? A real, passionate kiss, and you don't need to shell out $2 for one.

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  2. Well perhaps a chocolate kiss was the only appropriate means of affection at the tender age of 7. Thanks for reading :)

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