As you must know, unless you have been living under a rock most of your life, February 14th is Valentine’s Day! While you’ve probably heard a story or two of St. Valentine, several sources I checked say that the history of the day and that of it’s patron Saint is shrouded in mystery. The Catholic Church recognizes three Saints named Valentine, all that seem to have some connection to the holiday. Other sources suggest that Valentine’s Day had it’s root in pagan history, and that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, which was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman God of agriculture,
Whatever the source of the holiday, it means big business to many! According to Wikipedia:
“In the United States, about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange. Valentine’s Day is a major source of economic activity, with total expenditures topping $18.2 billion in 2017, or over $136 per person.”
Susie and I have spent 44 Valentine’s Days together since our first one in 1978, and over all those years, we have learned some things. Here’s my advice to folks looking to celebrate the day….
CARDS – As a couple that has no trouble telling the other one that we love them, starting and ending every day with those sentiments, it can be hard to buy cards. Every year, when I head to the card store, I have to weed through card after card that has sentiments like, “Although I may not say it, you know I love you,” or “Our love is so strong that I don’t have to say the words to you, but you know how I feel,” or some other words that attempt to normalize not telling your wife you love her. My problem with Valentine’s Day is that it is loaded with folks that don’t use the words “I Love You” on any of the other 364 days of the year. Makes it hard to find the right card!
FLOWERS – Flowers are always nice, but at what cost? Back in the olden days, I might send Susie a bouquet at the school she worked at, or I might stop at the florist on the way home, and bring her flowers. For a number of years, I used to send her flowers via ProFlowers and they were always lovely and reasonably priced, but all that changed. In 2014, FTD bought ProFlowers, probably in answer to the job the e-commerce flower delivery service was doing to their business. Well, the prices went from reasonable to outlandish very quickly. For this Valentine’s Day, a dozen red roses (and not long stem) will set you back close to $80 with delivery fees. Prior to 2014, I used to be able to send Susie 2-3 dozen long stem roses for that price! The best value today…stop at the grocery store on the way home!
DINNER OUT – For many couples, a nice evening out at their favorite spot or perhaps a fancy new spot will be in their plans. Been there, done that, and sorry, but it always seems to be a sh*t show! Even places you love are screwed up that night because of all the non regulars that show up. Let me share a story from our past life. One Valentine’s Day a long time ago, we had a reservation for dinner at our favorite Mineola Restaurant, Piccolo’s, where we were almost like family. As most places do on that day, Piccolo’s had sittings running about an hour and a half each, and every slot was filled. We arrived for the second sitting to find a frantic owner’s wife, Debbie. She was very apologetic because a couple had arrived before the first sitting and now, into the second, was still there, showing no sign of leaving and throwing their night all off kilter! She bought us drinks at the bar, and because we were such regulars there ,understood her dilemma, but it happens a lot. We’ve been out a number of times over our past 44 years of Valentine’s Days, and I really don’t think we have ever enjoyed the evening or the meal due to BS going on in the restaurant! A nice comfortable meal at home is much preferred in the D’Elia Household!
So there you have it…my take on this holiday. It may truly be a response to one of the martyred St. Valentines in the ancient church, or it may have been an easy solution to the church Christianizing a Pagan Holiday, but whatever the source, it is one of Hallmark’s favorite days on the calendar. We don’t like going out because like the other Saint Day (St. Patrick’s Day), it’s really a time for amateurs! Our day will revolve around a nice dinner at home and whatever else we come up with (sorry Susie..no hints here). My best memories of Valentine’s Day came from the quiet times it was just the two of us (or the 5 of us) spending the day with those we loved the most in the world! Whatever you do, Susie and I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day!