I’ve come to realize something about myself. I don’t particularly care for holidays that have become all about gifts. Christmas had started to go that way, and so we made changes in our house that I feel like is for the better. We took gifts out of the equation for the most part. In fact, the Washington Post wrote about it here. And now, on the almost eve of Valentine’s Day and hearing all the Valentine’s Day hype already going on, I’m recognizing the same feelings of unsettle in me.
History of Valentine’s Day
The origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat muddled and uncertain. Two men, both named Valentine, were executed by Emperor Claudius II on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. The Catholic Church celebrated their martyrdom with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Shakespeare and other writers took the idea of Valentine’s Day and romanticized it. Eventually, the idea of Valentine’s Day made it’s way to the New World and in 1913, Hallmark started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards.
So, what started out as the death of two men named Valentine, has become an industry capitalizing on our feelings for one another. If you really love her you’ll buy her the diamond, or chocolate, or dinner, etc. It has certainly come a long way from celebrating the martyrdom of two men who were executed!
Valentine’s Day Hype & Teens
As far as I can remember, I haven’t had any traumatic event that’s Valentine’s Day related. No big humiliations that I can remember – of course, maybe I’ve effectively stuffed them down so far they have disappeared, but I don’t think so!
I distinctly remember almost 21 years ago talking to my then boyfriend about Valentine’s Day, and what my thoughts were on this “holiday.” I told him I expect to be told “I love you” way more than just once a year. I don’t care about the cards or gifts, I’d much rather get unexpected gifts at unexpected times just because he was thinking of me. We have stuck to the “no Valentine’s Day” for almost 20-years of marriage, and it works just fine for us. But now, with two teens in the house, I’m beginning to realize why I hate the Valentine’s Day hype for my teens!
I asked my two teens what their thoughts were on Valentine’s Day. I have a 17 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. Neither had any big feelings for the holiday either way, although my son called it Single’s Awareness Day. At home, we’ve never really done anything for them, so it made sense that they don’t really have any special feelings about it.
When I asked if they noticed any pressure on teenagers regarding Valentine’s Day, my daughter said that in her friends who were dating it is a big deal. There tends to be expectations. And, it doesn’t seem to matter if a couple has been dating for a short time or a long time.
Kids are having these unrealistic expectations encouraged by the media in the form of commercials, social media and to some extent movies and how they portray love and romance.
But, this pressure is certainly not relegated just to teenagers! I see this same trend in adults, the media seems to have put an inordinate amount of focus and pressure on this one day to celebrate “love.”
What I want my daughter to know about Valentine’s Day
So, here’s what I want my daughter to know about Valentine’s Day.
- Do not go out on a first date on Valentine’s Day! This is just a bad idea!!
- Share early what your expectations are (or aren’t). If Valentine’s Day is important to you, tell your date. I can promise you, they aren’t mind readers! And, on the other hand, if you feel like this is a contrived holiday, also let them know this. Either way, share what your expectations are!
- Valentine’s Day, and the romantic gestures that tend to go along with it, in no way equals “love.” While a lot of the commercialization would have you believe otherwise, it isn’t love! If a date goes overboard on Valentine’s Day, they may just be a romantic who enjoys the holiday. Don’t make any assumptions about a long lasting relationship based on this one day!
What I want my son to know about Valentine’s Day
And, here’s what I want my son to know about the Valentine’s Day hype. It’s seems most of the pressure for Valentine’s Day is on men (young and old). And frankly, that’s just not fair!
- Ask about Valentine’s Day expectations prior to Valentine’s Day! Don’t make assumptions that your date will feel one way or the other. Just ask! If she’s a big fan of Valentine’s Day, then celebrate it in a way that you can both enjoy!
- There’s a lot of pressure on guys to be “romantic.” If this isn’t your normal mode, it’s ok to go out of your comfort zone. But don’t do anything you’ll regret and don’t go into debt for a “romantic gesture”!!
- A lot of girls enjoy Valentine’s Day and the romance and fun of it all, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying romance! But, don’t confuse this fun, heady experience with love!
The Valentine’s Day Hype
I’m sure this sounds like I’m jaded and hate romance. Actually, that’s not true at all! I love romance, but I don’t enjoy a culture that tells us what romance is supposed to look like and how (or when) it’s supposed to happen. I don’t like commercials that say if you love her, you’ll buy her diamonds! To me, jewelry, chocolates, expensive dinners don’t equal romance or love. Well, maybe chocolate?!
In the end, I want my kids to enjoy whatever relationships they happen to go into. I don’t want a contrived holiday to set them up for disappointment or relationship failure. There are 364 more days of the year, so make sure you are comfortable with whatever you do on February 14!