Everyone knows St. Valentine’s Day: that 14th of February when a multitude of flowers,chocolate, cards, gifts and red hearts are exchanged across the world, all in the name of St. Valentine.
And now here goes the question: Who was Saint Valentine and how did his name become the personification of love and romance?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three saints named Valentine that were martyred. The most widespread legend places the story in third century Rome. This legend contends that, according to the judgement of Emperor Claudius II, marriage was harmful for the effectiveness and strength of the soldiers, making them weaker, so he outlawed marriage for young men: the spark of his empire’s potential soldiers. Valentine, who was a priest in disagree with the decree and that found it unjust, performed marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine was discovered, Claudius ordered his death and he was beheaded on February 14, on or about the year 270 A.D.
According to this same legend, Valentine sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While he was in prison, it is believed that Valentine sent a letter to her love, the jailer’s daughter, signed with “From your Valentine”.
For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death, and gradually this has evolved to what we know nowadays as St. Valentine’s Day, the day of love and romance.
But, is the current St. Valentine’s Day still based on its roots? Or has it actually been absorbed and taken into the “dark side” of pure consumerism? While it started as a festivity of love, it has become a day during which lovebirds purchase any kind of product within the category ‘I-love-you-so-much’ established by the stores and businesses of the new century.
“I think the secularization of Valentine’s Day has cheapened St. Valentine’s legacy, without a doubt. What we have today is a Hallmark occasion […] An explicitly spiritual and religious festival for a martyr turned into a feast day for valor and love, which then turned into a secular romantic opportunity for fine dining and diamond earrings and ‘every kiss begins with Kay’. Something got lost.” Philip A. Florio, S.J., assistant to the vice president of student life at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
While St. Valentine’s Day can still represent an opportunity to show love to those people we care about, it is well known that this feast day has transformed into a consumer-driven holiday. Now, in the 21st Century the sentiment of Valentine’s Day is worth millions of pounds. As EZBOB mentioned:
“According to a study by the National Retail Federation, consumers spend on average just over £76 each on Valentine’s Day alone and this is expected to rise in the coming years. This makes Valentine’s Day a highly important event for the retail sector, generating millions of pounds each year.”
“A high proportion of consumers place very little personal importance to the occasion, with the majority believing it to be a waste of money. However, we continue to spend lots of it, with over half of all British consumers buying something” states the UK Retail Occasions 2013 report.
You can even feel in the air that the day is approaching. Stores start hanging their extravagant heart-shaped decorations and advertisements, covering as far as the eye can see every surface in a bizarre mixture of red and pink colors that pursue you as a sarcastic reminder that…
- You need to buy a present or your beloved partner is going to think you don’t love him or her and you are so not romantic! or,
- Shame on you, you loser! You are single and you have no one to spend money on.
But let’s be honest. We all know that Valentine’s Day has become consumerism in its perfect form and we still fall for the gimmicks. We forget about it, don’t have time for it or try to resist until the final moment, and then buy the typical useless, last-minute kitsch St. Valentine’s gift people will use and admire during a maximum period of a day and then forget about it from the 15th of February on till the end of their lives.
I am now gonna pose two questions I would like you to think about:
- Do we really need to set up a day for showing how much we love each other?
- Is loving someone really about spending money?
That said, my advice if you are an incurable romantic and you want to go with the St. Valentine’s flow is to practice a bit what we know as DIY (Do it yourself) and think outside the box, because a great handmade and creative gift worth all the meaningless and kitsch gifts available in the market. And being honest, your wallet is going to be thankful for that.
The possibilities are countless, but I am going to share now with you my ten favorite handmade St. Valentine’s ideas to surprise the people you most care about:
1. St. Valentine’s Postcards
2. Photo Block Puzzle
3. Valentine Lightbulb
Source: Design Sponge
4. Memories Candle
Source: Inspiredideasmag blogspot
5. Valentine’s Take Out Box
6. Printable Love Coupons
Source: Tartertots & Jello
7. 7 Days of Love
Source: The Dating Divas
8. Vintage Paper Chandelier
Source: The Crafting Chicks
9. Sweet Valentine
For the cooking-type, here are some ideas to have a sweet, sweet Valentine…
Source: The Decorated Cookie
Source: Bake it in a Cake
Source: Hwtm Blog
Source: All Recipes & Picture: webdesign.org
10. It’s All about the Vibes…
Source: The Anderson Crew
So, if you feel like having a consumerism-free Valentine’s Day, step outside and celebrate that you are single or that you found your soulmate in a creative and fun way!