In medieval France and England, the peasantry noticed that right around mid-February, birds started to have a lot more sex. According to the Catholic Church, mid-February, specifically February 14, was also St. Valentine’s Day, a day to honour all the saints named Valentine. Three of them, in fact. Guys like St. Patrick could get their own day, but the Valentines had to share one.
Nevertheless, the names of those three dead saints soon became synonymous with the time of year when Europeans would take a cue from the birds and, in the words of Otis Redding, “try a little tenderness.” Naturally, someone eventually decided to make up a story about how St. Valentine was beheaded for illegally marrying couples in the third century.
Oh sure, like any holiday, the now-secularized Valentine’s Day has been subjected to its fair share of criticism from enlightened modern men and women who see it as nothing more than a cash grab by some sort of greeting card conspiracy.
Maybe it was that time in Grade 3 where they got sick after eating a heart-shaped cookie and lost 10 per cent of their body weight to the heaves.
Or maybe it was that “Anti-Valentine’s Day” party in high school where they ended up desperately making out with that side-ponytail girl. Or that one time in university where, fresh from a messy breakup, they had to work February 14th as a waiter at an upscale downtown restaurant, serving elaborate prix fixe dinners to legions of irritatingly cute couples.
Whatever the reason, Valentine’s Day has left a bad taste in the mouths of these pessimists.
No matter how much of a cynical, anti-establishment urbanite your mid-February mistakes have made you, can you really continue to reject a holiday that humbly celebrates the simple act of love, the most beautiful thing ever to have emerged from the cruel brood that is humanity?
On a bright summer day in early July, we celebrate a bunch of drunken easterners making a deal with the Queen. And don’t get me started about Victoria Day. Love, the one redeeming human quality that has somehow weathered millennia of taxes, poverty and wet willies, only gets a frigid wintry day.
No matter your failed e-harmony account, your ongoing divorce proceedings, or an extended dry spell that would make a vow of celibacy a mere formality at this point, surely you can sift through the paper hearts, stale candies and truly appreciate the one peculiar late-winter day that is so bold as to celebrate the one force in the world strong enough to end wars, drive the pens of poets, erect the walls of hospitals, feed the hungry and orchestrate every other act of goodness or charity ever to have inexplicably graced this wacky planet.
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