It’s that time again ‘Who’s the Daddy‘, my monthly feature where a Daddy blogger guest posts on my blog, sharing his voice and view on the world right now.
I’ve been utterly overwhelmed by the response from the incredible Daddy blogging community both in the UK and abroad, along with my readers of course- since launching this series last month; it’s a real privilege to share my blog with such a diverse and talented pool of bloggers writing about parenting and beyond, from their perspective.
This week Papa Tont, Tony Pitt, is sharing this thoughts on Valentine’s Day.
A serving soldier, Tony is a married father of two-a girl and a boy, and in his own words, ‘he’s tired of having to live up to society’s expectations when it comes to being a husband and father’.
‘Commercialism has ruined Valentine’s Day’ is a quote I’m hearing more and more of these days.
The exploitation of such celebrations by commercial industries is allegedly taking the romance and sense of occasion out of the event.
But it may surprise you to know that Valentine’s Day was never previously associated with romantic love; more a gesture of sacrificial love.
There have been several Valentines over the centuries, and very little fact is known about the Valentine we associate with February 14; as such the status of Valentine’s day was reduced in the eyes of the church.
There is much speculation about the events of Valentine’s life and death and much is left to legend and imagination.
One legend says that Valentine was imprisoned and interrogated by the Roman Emperor Claudius II with the intent of trying to get Valentine to convert to Roman Paganism.
Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity.
Valentine was executed. Before his execution though, Valentine supposedly performed a miracle and healed Julia, the daughter of his jailer Asterius, of her blindness. The whole family converted to Christianity as a result.
This story was later embellished suggest that on the evening before his execution Valentine wrote a letter to Julia and signed it ‘Your Valentine’, essentially the first Valentine’s card. Julia then planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near Valentine’s grave, and the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship to this day.
Another embellishment is that Valentine performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
According to legend, in order ‘to remind these men of their vows and God’s love’, Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine’s Day.
While the custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the UK (yes it’s our fault), Valentine’s Day still remains connected with various regional customs in England.
For instance, in Norfolk, a character called ‘Jack’ Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were allegedly scared of this mystical person.
None of these legends or folktales have any root in romance though. It wasn’t until Chaucer’s poetry about Valentines in the 14th Century that this link was established.
‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make’. [For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.]
This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for the marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. When they were married eight months later, they were each only 15 years old.
So given that Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with romance, how did it evolve into the commercial practice we see today?
Quite simply, it makes good business. In the UK last year, we were expected to spend almost £1bn on our wives, husbands, and prospective partners – a 10% increase on 2013. It’s easy to see why so many are beginning to turn their backs on the occasion. The research also suggested men would spend more, £623m, than women, at £355m.
The worrying thing about the importance we place on these celebrations is how we, as a society, place a stigma against those who don’t celebrate it. 53% of women in America said that they would dump their boyfriends if they didn’t get them anything for Valentine’s Day. No pressure then lads. But what’s happened to romance?
Wiki suggests that, ‘It takes great care, forethought, and creativity to be truly romantic’. So is it that we are just getting lazier and that it’s easy to buy flowers and chocolates rather than truly romance our partners? I think so.
In this busy and time sensitive world we live in, paying someone else to provide the romance is an easy, but expensive short cut.
I truly believe that there is still hope for romance and that it’s not as hard we think. It’s simply about knowing the person you love and then rewarding the little things that we take for granted every day.
What is romantic for one person might not be for another, and that’s where the individuality of it all makes it special. For some, it might be something as simple as having a bath run, with candles lit, when your partner gets home from work, for others it might be just making sure there’s a cup of tea ready without them having to ask for it; others may have a more demanding sense of romance.
My point is, that to simply say, ‘I don’t do Valentine’s Day’ is giving up on romance and something I need to change about myself. Yes, we don’t have to give in to the commercialistic nature of what Valentine’s Day has become, and yes, you shouldn’t just be romantic on one day of the year, but where’s the harm in showing your loved one that you are making that little bit of an extra effort to spoil them, or yourselves as a couple. And it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.
Here is a Twitter post of me not doing Valentine’s:
For more of Tony’s posts, read his Papa Tont blog here.