Love is in the air. You can see it, smell it, hear it, taste it, and feel it everywhere. The spirit is colored pink, red, and white. Chocolate hearts, boxes of sweets, and handfuls of cards are stuffed into mailboxes and handed with care. What day can this be? What day calls for such hearts and kisses?
What day but Valentine's Day? Some people argue that Valentine's Day is just another “scheme” for candy manufacture's to have a big party at the expense of consumer. If that's so, then they sure did a good job. But, really, Valentine's Day comes from tradition, from history. It all started in the Roman Empire during the cruel reign of emperor Claudius 2. In a time of blood and turmoil, one Christian priest stood to defend love in his country. His holy name was valentine and later saint valentine.
It's kind of strange to think that we celebrate love on the day the celebrated man died: February 14th. Eh, that's how we honor the dead, I guess.
Valentine's day is important in the US. When I was in elementary school, my homeroom class would have a party. There were chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting, punch, and little pink strawberry candies. The students would carefully take out their night before made valentine cards and drop them in another student's Valentine's Day box. The box was made two days in advance and decorated with markers, crayons, and glitter.
In middle school, it was another story. The childish valentine cards disappeared, and in came the "dating". The party still remained, but everything else had to go. No more boxes. No more glitter and crayons. It was now taking your “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” out to eat dinner. Of course, this includes parents in the ride, too
Things get a little tricky in high school. Relationships go beyond just giggling and “he said”, “she said” crushes. Now, Valentine's Day must be “romantic”, “creative”, “and surprising”. I remember hearing one story at my school that made me sigh. A student panned a romantic way to surprise his girlfriend.
After sports, his girlfriend came back to her room to find rose petals lying all over her bed and floor. In the middle of her bed, there were two dozen red roses and a box of chocolate. Sitting lazily on top of her pillows, a huge stuffed bear grinned with a card and a CD in its fluffy paws. She burst into tears as she read the card and listened to him singing. So there she was crying, listening to his voice, being surrounded by rose petals, eating chocolate, and smelling roses, when outside a rock hits her window. She pilled the blinds to see him standing and shyly smiling below her dorm room with a large poster with “get love?” in big, bold letters.
In high school, the parties are replaced with dances. Every year, the freshman class at my old school puts on a Valentine's Day dance for the whole school. I was president of my class during freshman year and created a dance committee that was wholly in charge of this activity. During the afternoon before the dance, our class decorated the large Hooper center with pink and white streamers, balloons, heart-shaped confetti, and posters with cupids and roses. The food arrived two hour before the DJ set up. There were strawberries dipped in chocolate, chips, soda, large cookies with red sprinkles, and brownies still warm from the oven. At 7:45 pm, the dance started with the DJ spinning his mixes.
Reaching adulthood means reaching a new level of comfort and maturity in dating and, thus, in celebration of love. The serious couples are doing the relationship tango with the whole roses, dinner, and a snugly night. The singles are mingling at these large social get-togethers that turn out to be a fest of alcohol, random make-out sessions, and too much people in a too small of an area. And then, there are people like me. I hang out in front of the laptop to watch a chessy, girly movies like Love Actually or Bridget Jone's Diary with my girl friends. We bring out the heavy-duty girl mood: tissues (to weep in or to throw at the screen), pillows (to clutch to), and much giggling to suffice the atmosphere. And, of course, the girl talk that follows the movie is undeniably a tradition. I'm in my chair, my roommate is on her chair, our friend Kate is on my roommate's bed, and other girl friend (the “asexual”) is on my bed. We discuss relationship politics, economics of boys and girls, and war of the sexes while listening to feminist songs in the background. What better things to do on a lonely Valentine's Day night?
So we can't go back to the days when our younger blushing selves were sticking in that handmade, perfumed, and perfectly scripted Valentine's Day cards into our love interest's box. But, within us, is still that crazy sentimentalist who breaks to the surface every now and then. Valentine's Day is such a day when we can be Lord Bryons and Casanovans without shame.
Who can stop the crazy love in the air? Cupid isn't cupid for nothing. His job profile includes sharp shooting.