Saturday, February 14, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Valentine's Day Expanded?

Valentine's Day, February 14, is celebrated in may parts of the
world, but no where more than in the United Kingdom, where
it originated, and in the United States where more than a
hundred million cards are sent each year.

Although two Saint Valentines (Valentinius), both early
Christian martyrs, are cited as the origin of the annual
celebration, the holiday itself was invented in the Middle Ages
by the greatest English literary figure of the time, Geoffrey
Chaucer. The modern observance of sending cards and giving
gifts to loved ones originated in the middle of the 19th century
in England at about the same time of the emergence there of
the Industrial Revolution and the earliest appearance of postage

It is not a legal holiday in the U.S., although it is followed by
Washington’s Birthday (now known as President’s Day) which
is. (It is the latter which will cause late-sent valentine cards to
arrive on February 17 or later this year.)

Valentine's Day is thus a cultural holiday (although a formal
feast day for Anglicans and other religious groups), and, as it
quickly became in England and the U.S., a large-scale
commercial holiday. Red-colored ads, laden with heart and
cupid motifs, have filled newspapers and other advertising
media for some weeks. Greeting card companies, chocolatiers
and florists understandably consider one of their biggest times
of the year.

Among the few who might feel ambivalent about the date are
those whose birthday also comes on February 14 (like my late
brother --- but our mother always made a special heart-shaped
birthday cake for him).

The holiday today is not only commercial, but also a day for
reaching out to loved ones and children. I would suggest that
it be expanded to be the day we celebrate the invention of the
, the ultimate device (to date) for connecting friends,
family and strangers nearby and far away so easily and quickly,
and the (recently) endangered symbol of freedom in the world.
Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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