Two of America’s favorite holidays are back-to-back this year; one for girls and one for boys. That’s certainly not to say both are equally for boys and girls, but in my life, that’s the way it’s always seemed.
Here’s another thing. I haven’t seen people rushing out to buy Hallmark Super Bowl greeting cards and there’s probably no Hallmark movie of neighborhood husbands gathered around a huge TV screen shouting things like “whoa” and “go-go-go.”
On the other hand, last weekend there were scores of kids and grownups having a great time at Finley Gym and amongst the dozens of projects, there was a table for making Valentine’s Day cards. It’s an American tradition.
One thing that we’d do at school every year is to swap out valentines. It was mandatory all through grade school to give a card to each of your classmates, boys and girls alike. As a third-grader, for example, the cards I gave my buddies would say something like “be my pal,” or “you’re a super friend,” whereas the ones for girls would be “you’re a special person,” and so forth. There was none of that kissy stuff, no siree bub, not for an 8-year-old with a dirty face.
Come to think of it, Valentine’s Day does come smack in the middle of year number two of the wash hands-mask wearing era, so you want to cut back on all mushy stuff, right? No? Maybe?
No matter, the date has been hewn in historical granite ever since the 200s when Emperor Claudius II had a priest named Valentine beheaded for performing a wedding ceremony. It seemed Claudius had banned marriage because “married men made bad soldiers.”
Hmm. Consult Lysistrata at this point.
So, legend has it that while awaiting execution the priest had developed a crush on the jailer’s daughter and on February 14, as he walked to his doom, slipped a note to the lady and signed it, “from your Valentine.” I didn’t read that in Ripley’s, but man, it sure clears things up for me.
Up there in a previous paragraph, I said it was an American tradition, but I need to add that it’s also a tradition around the world, at least the sentiment behind it is.
In Finland, it’s called Friend’s Day, more along the lines of celebrating friendships than romantic love. Germans festoon their Valentine cards with pigs. Mass weddings are held on Valentine’s Day in The Philippines. It’s the women who give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day in Japan. In Bulgaria, February 14 is also Winemaker’s Day, so even the lovelorn can celebrate something.
And in case you’re wondering, Saudi Arabia, has banned Valentine’s Day, but over in Iraq red roses, teddy bears and balloons will be gifted all over.
Maybe Ghana has the right idea; it’s Chocolate Day there.
Speaking of chocolate, a good movie for Valentine’s Day is Like Water For Chocolate, a Mexican film that sort of blends food and romance with magical elements. Chocolate, you know, is said to stimulate the release of endorphins, generating feelings of pleasure and a sense of well-being. In other words, it’s not a kid’s movie.
That reminds me, I’ve got to get to the store and stock up, I mean, Easter is only 10 weeks away.
But back to Valentine’s Day. While pondering what the best movies to see on Valentine’s Day would be, I got sidetracked after I watched the 1931 comedy International House, where Rudy Vallee sings a love song to his megaphone. Well, it was a comedy, but guys have been singing to their sweethearts ever since “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes” appeared on the wooer’s hit parade. There was a time when a young man would station himself under a girl’s window, strum a ukulele, and sing something chaste and romantic. But times change and by the 1980s a lovesick boy could simply park his car under her window and play In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel from a boombox held high, as in the movie “Say Anything…”
I suppose nowadays young folks just tweet their abiding love. Preferably in a poem. Just remember, emojis don’t speak louder than words.
I’m reminded of when I was in high school and trying to impress some/any girl by writing love poems, which usually included “the moon” or “tulips” and used words like ‘twas and thee, but ended up sounding like something Edgar Allen Poe would write.
Not surprisingly, since my teenage brain was one iambic short of a pentameter, it never really worked.
To be on the safe side, you might give some business to the new flower shop over there where the jerky store used to be.
Just never buy flowers from a monk. Only you can prevent florist friars.