Local View: One day a year set aside for love? 'Complete poppycock'

From the column: "I’ll continue to be blunt. Valentine’s Day is an idiotic holiday. Think about it."

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I once wrote inside a Valentine's Day card, "Roses are red, violets are blue, if you love me then good for you." It was blunt and to the point, and actually got a chuckle out of the recipient.

I'll continue to be blunt. Valentine's Day is an idiotic holiday.

Think about it. One day out of the year we’re supposed to celebrate love, romance, and, I guess, chocolate. To be fair, our calendar is replete with one-day holidays or remembrances. You’ve got Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Arbor Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Fourth of July, to name a few. As a society, we like these neat and tidy days to focus on something we generally couldn’t care less about the rest of the year.

Then there is Valentine’s Day, also known as St. Valentine’s Day, for those who like romance and religion. From what I have read, there were a few guys named Valentine (or a similar name) back in the Roman days who were sainted and later martyred (stabbed, head cut off, crucified, what have you). Apparently, one of these saints was secretly officiating marriages for Roman soldiers, and the emperor, who thought single soldiers made better soldiers, took umbrage to such an affront to Roman military efficiency. Not exactly the best situation for those poor saints, let alone the societal legacy of Valentine’s Day.

Another analysis suggests Christians used a day in February to counter pagan love rituals that involved slaughtering goats and smearing their bloody hides on women. If true, very weird. Eventually, the Christians had their way and turned, century by century, a pagan ritual into the syndicate monstrosity it is now.


By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. And by the 20th century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Such cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. In other words, no longer were the Christians in charge; big business was, seeing the profits in cheap expressions of love.

Which leads us to the holiday we have now. Valentine’s Day is a billion-dollar industry, with men and women across the globe forking over hundreds of dollars (or pounds, Euros, etc.) to make that special person in their life happy that one day out of the year.

Complete poppycock.

Between my two wives and numerous lovers, I have plunked down a lot of change during the V-Day frenzy. We’re talking cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry, clothing, trips, or an evening out at a restaurant that sets me back a month’s pay. Add it all up: I could have used that money on an overseas trip by myself or checking out Civil War battlefields.

That said, I have to admit I have screwed up on Valentine’s Day. I’ve forgotten it a few times (being deployed to military zones at the time didn’t seem an excuse for the women involved). Then there was the time I brought to my wife some flowers and a book titled, “101 Sex Secrets.” That didn’t go over too well.

But Feb. 14 has had a new meaning for me. It’s my daughter’s birthday, and I love her. So, I guess you could say that Valentine’s Day is special for me. In the meantime, I have some flowers and chocolates to be ordered for two women who are still an important part of my life.

Dave Boe of Duluth is a writer, an editor, a game developer, retired from the military, and mostly a man of leisure. He can be reached .

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Dave Boe

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