Once upon a time, the executives at Hallmark got together and decided to soak Americans for millions of dollars per year for holiday cards and goodies. What began with kids taking paper cartoon valentines to their sweethearts and classmates at school has become a huge red-and-pink monster of consumer gluttony. Bottom line: Valentine’s Day is rooted in profits!
I can already hear the Pro-V-Day constituents bemoaning my cynicism. “But what about love,” they say. “All you need is love,” they cry. For the sake of argument, let’s agree that Valentine’s Day does encourage people to love more. Shouldn’t that be our goal every day? Jesus did say it was the 2nd most important commandment. So why not give out chocolates and flowers on June 14 or September 23? Why take a day sponsored by a fat, naked, weapon-wielding baby and use it to express your undying devotion to your loved ones? That's bizarre when you think about it.
The rub with Valentine’s Day is the pressure! How many of us have unrealistic expectations of fireworks, carriage rides, jewelry, flowers and moonlight serenades? There is much hoop-jumping to be done as a result of extreme, holiday-induced expectations.
My disdain for faux holidays can be traced back many, many years into my childhood. I distinctly recall a conversation in 6th grade where my best friend Chelsea asked me cheerfully whether I’d be sporting red or pink on Valentine’s Day. I deadpanned – brown, of course. Also contributing to my unadulterated loathing is the fact that my family doesn’t acknowledge commercialized holidays. We don’t get loads of presents every time Walgreen’s puts out a new color of M&Ms based on the season. So, it’s not like this is new.
Just because I think Valentine’s Day is wretched doesn’t mean I hate love or I’m a cynic or Debbie Downer. I think any holiday, valid or faux, is great if it underscores one of God’s messages, and despite commercialism, I think most holidays do bring great glory to God. Thanksgiving reminds us to, duh, give thanks. Christmas reminds us of Jesus’ birth and how he came to save us. If Valentine’s Day reminds us to love, that’s great. But we have to take all those holiday messages and make them last throughout the year.
Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
"Forget love - I'd rather fall in chocolate!"
Sandra J. Dykes