Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Re-Imagined Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day may just be the most un-loved holiday of the year. Folks call it a "Hallmark Holiday", others hold "anti-Valentine's Day", the singles feel like it's some sort of slap in their face, and anyone who is cool is way too cool for this holiday. Of course, there's a reason for all that. It IS smaltzy, corney, terribly over-commercialized, and an amalgam of traditions taken from all over the place without any real heart to the whole thing.
But I hold on to Valentine's Day, mainly because I've found that it is helpful to me in combating the post-Christmas winter blues. February can be a very cruel month, very cold and grey and nasty and for the shortest month of the year it can feel long. This year spring is poking her head out a bit early in my neck of the woods, but frequently this is the part of winter that just feels like it won't let go.
Overall, I think the purpose of celebrating holidays is to bring us into a rhythm with the seasons and the turning of the year. The holidays also honor and remind us of various passages and points in the human journey: Christmas and New Years is birth and new life, Halloween is death, Valentine's Day is young exuberant love.
As a day for Love, to me it's a time to send handmade love notes to my family, especially aging grandparents. It's a time indulge in some more candy and cookies and sweetness with my children. It's also a day to express my love to my husband and a day for him to express his love to me. But some folks are trying to re-imagine this holiday so that the love spreads even farther than all that, and I like this line of thinking. Love can transform the world, if we only let it and Love enough.
The Standing on the Side of Love campaign, which began as a UUA campaign for marriage equality and has since also taken a strong stand on immigration issues, called for us all to reimagine Valentine's Day as a day to recognize courageous love and the power of love to shape a better world.
And then I've been hearing about "Love Your Farmer" campaigns for Valentine's Day.
There are probably and endless number of ways that you could take the day and express your Love in a broader way, to make a statement about the world you wish to create - the Beloved Community.
So I am unashamed to be a fan of Valentine's Day. The saint may never have lived, and his story is pretty improbable, but a man who died for the right of others to marry, who died for Standing on the Side of Love, is still a story worth telling. And in this world that can be pretty cold and bleak spreading a bit more Love around - even in the form of way-too-cute-teddybears - really can't be a bad thing.