Valentine’s Day, like all other modern holidays, has evolved into something far from what it started out as. St. Valentine’s Day originally began as a day to honor Christian martyrs. Interestingly enough there were several martyrs of the time that were named Valentine. To which one the day was really created for is lost to history.
The romantic notions of the holiday did not latch on until medieval times when courtly love *sigh* was popular. The only other romantic aspect of it is due to the date being around the time dedicated to the marriage of Zeus and Hera and also around some dates that were once observed for an archaic rite connected to fertility.
When I was younger I would comb through the little Valentine’s I got from my classmates at school and wonder if there was some secret love being implied in the Batman card I got from Donny. In Jr. High and High School I so hoped to receive a Valentine from a boy! Any boy! It didn’t matter if I liked him or not; I just wanted to know that someone out there liked ME romantically.
My dad would get me boxes of chocolates or bouquets of flowers. I loved them but…he has to love me. I’m his daughter. These were not the romantic gestures I had hoped for.
And then there was My Love. At fifteen I was finally rescued from the woes of spinster-hood! I got the flowers, the stuffed bear holding a message heart, and the chocolates. Poor bloke was broke but he knew this was not a day to screw up.
I don’t know when it happened (probably around the time I had kids) that Valentine’s quit being about me, me, me and started to simply be about LOVE. I start every Valentine’s day with Valentine pancakes. To make them I would mix a batch of pancake batter and then split the batter into two separate bowls. One bowl of mix would get a drop or two of red food coloring in it. Then I made a stack of “red” pancakes and a stack of “white.” Next I would take a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut a heart from each pancake. Then I would take a red heart and stick it in the whole of a white pancake and a white heart to stick in the whole of a red pancake.
This is typically served with strawberries and of course syrup and powdered sugar! Also at their place setting in the morning, the boys would find a small box of chocolates with a “love note” from Mom and Dad on it.
Another love note would be found in their school lunches that had sandwiches that had also been hacked into heart shapes with the cookie cutter.
We have a nice dinner together, often by candle light (which the boys find so cool!). Nothing heart-shaped for dinner. Just whatever I had planned on making. They eat off of heart-shaped plates on heart-shaped placemats.
For special friends of mine I would make old-fashioned nosegays! Nosegays were used in the day when few bathed and sewer systems were open. One would carry a small bouquet of flowers with them for when their senses were hit with an unpleasant smell. Some nosegays even held messages that could be deciphered by translating the meaning of each flower. (Flowers are symbolic of many things such as the yellow rose symbolizing friendship.)
To make nosegays for your friends you only have to buy one or two bouquets of flowers (mixed arrangements are the best). They typically come with colored paper in with them (some sort of fibery stuff) and netting. I cut squares out of each of them. Then I fold the squares into fourths and cut a slit in the folded corner so that when I unfold the squares there is a hole in the middle. The flowers are all cut to a shorter length. Just big enough for a hand to hold. Only about 3 or 4 flowers are stuck into the hole in the square with maybe a sprig of baby’s breath or greenery. Then I slide a little of the fabric down onto the stems so that they form a collar around the mini-bouquet and secure it with tape. I then wrap wet paper towels around the stems followed by saran wrap around that. The unsightly towels and plastic are then covered by wrapping satin ribbon around and around it, starting at the bottom and then working up. Another bit of ribbon is tied up at the top, leaving the ends long for more romantic emphasis.
Basically, I began to find ways to say “I love you” to the many people in my life instead of looking for who was going to make a grand statement of love to me.
One Valentine’s Day my mom was taken completely aback when a gentleman at Starbucks paid for her order.
“Did you get his number?”
“No. I thanked him, he wished me a Happy Valentine’s Day, got his coffee and left.”
“You have to go back every day at the same time until you see him again!”
“I’m really not interested. But it made my day!”
This is something that Man and I sometimes like to do as well. It’s fun to go through the drive through and pay for the person in line behind you. Just knowing that you made someone feel a little special is a great feeling!
So if you are one of those people who hate, loathe and despise Valentine’s Day, I would suggest you stop thinking of it as a day of romance and also stop thinking that it’s all about you. Make this holiday about your loved ones and find ways to tell them how much you care!
Here are some other fun things we’ve done at our house to get us in the mood for love!
I found these at the grocery store for about $5 but the same thing can be done for free. They are just a book of little love notes that say things like, “Sure, you can squash a bug…but you can’t squash my love for you!” There are little notes of encouragement and affection all with a “bug” theme. I’ve been slipping them into lunch boxes, school folders, trumpet cases, piano books, or just laying them on their pillow. There is not one everyday and sometimes the boys let me know that it’s been too long since the last one.
In my house I always like to remind the family that we are celebrating love and God is love! Last year I posted 1Corinthians 13:13, “These things will last forever–faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is LOVE.” This year it is 1Cor. 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind…” In each heart hanging from the tree I wrote the things that “love is.” If you don’t have a chalk board wall you could do something similar on a cork board or even with Valentine wallies that I’ve seen in the store. Just make a statement of love some where! It doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Got butcher paper?
Cut hearts out of pretty paper and attach to string, yarn or ribbon with tape, clothespins or paperclips. You could also get the paper heart doily’s at Wal-Mart and hang those. I think there are 30 in a pack for $0.99!
And if you want flowers…buy yourself some! These are above my sink and brighten my day everytime I look at them. The rod, hooks and pots came from IKEA. They are advertised for planting herbs. I did not have much success in that area, maybe because my sink is not near a window, but they make lovely vases!