It’s hard not to notice your singleness on Valentines Day.
“But wait!” you say, “You’re a newlywed! Isn’t it against the rules to complain of loneliness on the Day of all Hallmark Days?!”
Well…yes. And no.
My dear and lovely husband is a traveller. He doesn’t get sick days, vacation days, personal holidays or nights and weekends free to spend with his attention hungry wife. For better or worse, he is on the road working hard for the money.
This year, like many years in the past, I jumped on board the Valentines Day is Evil (with a capital E!) bandwagon with just as much vigor as my single counterparts.
Then, one pre V-Day night while watching the Discovery channel late into the evening with my bottle of wine and feeling-sorry-for-myself pajammys, a stunning moment of clarity occurred.
The show as on Stonehenge. Tradition, rituals, community, sacrifices and Pagans. All fascinating mostly because of how strange, backward and foreign these things seem to our ‘civilized’ culture.
This particular show really stressed how important rituals were to the Pagan community. Sure, they really did believe that warriors wearing a skinned wild boar would be far better protected than if they should wear armor. And, of course, we have all heard about the sacrificing of numerous animals on every major holiday.
Then…something clicked in my fuzzy, wine drenched brain.
I could go into detail about how every holiday we celebrate today has roots in old Pagan rituals, but I wont bore you with ancient customs and religious conspiracy theories (that’s for another blog). What I am intrigued by is the underlying reason for these rituals, beyond the desire for bountiful crops, health and vitality. I’m sure the vast majority of ancient peoples really did believe these holidays were incredibly meaningful in the literal sense, but the leaders, the intellects, the groundbreakers, the people who created these rituals in the first place, why did they do it?
I can only imagine how utterly mandatory it was to have a closely bonded group of people. Your life, quite literally, depended on that trust and support. United we stand, divided we fall.
These rituals brought people together with one unified goal. They spent weeks, sometimes months, preparing for the event and every man, woman and child would participate with gusto. It brought them together, made them strong, created a universal understanding that spanned ages and gender. Whether or not bathing in ox blood would do little more than stain your clothes wasn’t the point, it was the bond that forms by everyone working together for the same cause.
So how does this translate to our contemporary, squeaky clean and relatively young American culture? Alright, I’m not telling you to string up your local feral kitty and do a little jig around a bonfire…well, the jig is ok, but please leave the animals out of it. The point is we have been brainwashed by corporate America, by Hallmark and high-end restaurants, by flower shops and Russell Stover, and we are completely missing the point!
Valentines Day isn’t a day to recklessly scramble for a last-minute date with someone you will never speak to again just for the sake of not being ‘alone on Valentines Day’ (oy, if I had heard that statement from one more person you would have had to peel me off the ceiling).
It’s about love. Plain old, simple, hippy dippy love for everyone.
The universal meaning is absolutely beautiful! Ring up your Grandma Esther that you typically only call on her birthday and just say, “I love you Grammy!!”. Send your sister that box of chocolates instead of The Gap, where that girl you like is working, she’ll probably just think its creepy anyway. Your sister will undoubtedly appreciate it much more, and afterall, do you really love Gap girl? Probably not, but I bet you love your sister.
I’m all for romantic gestures and believe me, I would have swooned if my husband showed up with roses and whisked me away to Spago. Valentines Day (albeit its origins are highly controversial) does have roots in significance to lovers, but don’t have tunnel vision.
My hope is that enough people will see holidays as a way to bring them closer to their community. Unification and a sense of belonging. Its simple and can be pretty silly, but in a world of text messaging, emails, Facebook and Twitter, we are all increasingly isolated. This is a fun, healthy and easy way to give us all a little common ground and a little joy. Not to mention high involvement and belonging in a community is said to lead to a much longer and healthier life.
So my proposition to you is embrace holidays! Slap on your bunny ears and shower candy on everyone you meet! Raise a Guinness and toast your Irish friends! Paint the American flag across your forehead and actually learn the words to the National Anthem! And for goodness sake send your mom a big box of chocolates with a note that says, “I love you!”. If enough people are able to shed their jaded, lackadaisical attitude, imagine what fun and happiness could occur!
Afterall, how can anyone not smile in a world full of people with bunny ears and chocolate?