Friday, February 9, 2007

John Scalzi's Weekend assignment

   It's weekend assignment time again.
Weekend Assignment #151: Is Valentine's Day a genuinely romantic day? Or just a big commercial money pit into which romantic people fall? Go on, share how you really feel about the day -- whether you enjoy it, or feel like it's forced on you by greeting card companies, or fall somewhere in between those two poles.

Extra credit: Suggest a nice romantic movie.

   In order to address this weekend's assignment, I did some some research on St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day. I was amused.
   Traditionally called St. Valentine's Day, February 14th hasn't actually been the Catholic feast day of St. Valentine for almost thirty-eight years. Today, February 14th is the liturgical feast day only of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. Why is Valentine's Day no longer St. Valentine's Day? Well, it seems that the current opinion of the church is that the most popular figures referred to as being the origin of the holy day are 'legendary' saints. That means they did not, in actuality, ever really exist.
   In addition, it seems that the association of Valentine's Day with love and romance is almost entirely the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century. In his Parlement of Foules, he relates the tale (couched as if it were, indeed, an old tradition) that St. Valentine's Day was the day that birds met and chose their mates. There are no earlier references to St. Valentine's Day being connected with romantic love known. But why, you ask, would birds be mating in the middle of February, in Englande of Olde?
   Well, I don't know if you really asked that, or not, but two points to you if you did. Them's some pretty good critical thinking skills at work. It seems that Chaucer wrote that poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, which event occurred on May 2, 1381. And May 2nd, as it happens, is the Catholic liturgical feast day of another saint named Valentine, of Genoa, from the early fourth century.
  So all those hearts and chocolates being thrown around every February 14th are, in fact, being received on completely the wrong day. Those who read Chaucer's poem at the time naturally assumed he was talking about the St. Valentine they were most familiar with. You know, the one who never really existed. Christians are funny that way.
   There you are gentlemen, from me to you: an excuse you can try out the next time you forget Valentine's Day. "But honey, I was saving your gift for the real St. Valentine's Day." I don't really expect that would work, and I certainly would never try to pull it off myself, but you, when you're desperate, you'll try anything. Just remember to get her something on May 2nd, or your ass is grass, man.

   So. Valentine's Day. Day of romance, or commercial blackmail? Well, both, really. I mean, when the tradition of St. Valentine's day was brought over to North America in the nineteenth century during the huge wave of British immigration that happened at that time, it took little or no time for it to catch on with enterprising merchants as a "let's make a quick buck at the expense of those poor schmucks being ruled by their testicles" opportunity. And, in fact, Hallmark Cards admits that they sell more product for Valentine's Day than any other holiday other than Christmas (you know, the liturgical feast day of another one of Catholicism's legendary figures). There is no question that the day has become little more than an occasion for retailers to hold a hammer over the heads of us poor, hormone controlled fellows. Buy flowers or sleep on the couch!

   Still, as they, "might as well roll with with it." Being that it is impossible to avoid, why not embrace it? You know your wife/girlfriend/illicit adulterous mistress is expecting something romantic. So go with it. Give it a little thought. Get her something that'll really set a sparkle in her eyes.
   Forget about the chocolate, the flowers, the stuffed bears holding little stuffed hearts. For the love of Woden, forget about the slutty little piece of barely there lingerie you had your eye on. Think about it, damn it! Because, you know, at the end of it all, that's all they really want: to know that you're thinking about them.
   Remember, life's what you make it.

Life's what you make it - Talk Talk

Baby, life's what you make it
Can't escape it
Baby, yesterday's favorite
Don't you hate it
Baby, life's what you make it
Don't backdate it
Baby, don't try to shake it
Beauty is naked
Baby, life's what you make it
Celebrate it
Anticipate it
Yesterday's faded
Nothing can change it
Baby, life's what you make it
Everything's all right

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ceilisundancer said...

It's neither entirely a romantic day, nor a commercial day.  It's about love:)
But, I suppose as an assignment, you're wanting us to all blog about it..... which could be interesting.   Ok, I should.  I might, even.  ;)  -- Robin

southernmush said...

Hello....Being that I have NEVER had a boyfriend or entered into the dating zone I have looked at Valentines Day negatively that is until I started at J-Land. I now enjoy Valentines Day very much. I have friends that I send cards too including Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and now Valentines Day. I am enjoying getting ready for Valentines Day. I bought Valentines Day cards, signed them and sent them out so I am a fan of V-Day.

When it comes to movies here are some suggestions to fall head over heels in love with :

Simply Irresistible
Crossing Delancey
You've Got Mail
Bridget Jones' Diary

Go ahead enjoy "Happy Hearts Day"
Hitch w/Will Smith
The Lake House
84 Charing Cross Road

tenyearnap said...

Oh man, I still miss Talk Talk!! Thanks for the video.
Romantic movie: "Shaun of the Dead" because he's a flesh-eating zombie but he's still my husband and I love him. Now THAT is romantic.
;) Cin

princesssaurora said...

Bottom line... and it will be in my journal entry... Any day that we pay homage to love is a good day, and however you chose to celebrate that works for you and yours is good too.

be well,

plittle said...

Oh. Yeah. The extra credit thing. I skipped that. I don't do chick flicks.

princesssaurora said...

I don't believe that Paul... you are married... even a movie like Mr & Mrs Smith could be considered romantic... a lot of action movies must have one pick!!!


be well,

rebuketheworld said...

Out of 5 kids, 4 were born in November. I am not sure if I should high-five valentines day but it sure makes birthdays hell on wheels,lol. ~Raven

mavarin said...

One thing I forgot to mention in my entry last night is that it's unfair to both sexes that the media and individuals often portray Valentine's Day as being the occasion when the man has to buy something for the woman...or else. What, does the male need to prove his love with something tangible, to make up for his inability to express love verbally?  Has the female no need to reciprocate such tokens, and a moral right to exact vengeance on the hapless male whofails in his duty to pamper her? Phooey.  

If I recall correctly, there were three Valentines, none of whom are particularly interesting or well-documented.  May as well celebrate the life of Valentine Dyall, who was the Black Guardian in Doctor Who and Deep Thought in the H2G2 tv series.

plittle said...

OK, fine, Dawn. "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." -- Moulin Rouge.

ravenjuiced said...

I love going all out on Valentine's Day. I'm cynical about a lot of things, Christmas being at the top of that list, but even if it's a a plot by the diamond market, Valentine's is still way cool. Jewelry and a dozen roses at the office so she can show them off to her co-workers isn't too much to ask.


midwestvintage said...

 Here is my link about Valentines day.  Can't for the life of me think of a romatic movie.

rdautumnsage said...

I really don't get Valentine's Day...... mainly because idiots who don't normally do anything for their loved ones all of a sudden feel obligated to do so one day of the year. Kinda reminds me of giving flowers at a funeral. Why? wouldn't they have been more appreciated and thoughtful if you received them while you where alive?
We shouldn't need a day to remind louts to show they love someone. (Hugs) Indigo

justaname4me2 said...

I enjoyed the song/video, except for the creepy crawly centipede that reminds me of a worm.
Anyway, about the big V-Day. I can take it, or leave it. I've never experienced a V-day without a man in my life, so I'm not sure what that feels like, so no big black heart clouds for me. I know what I do miss from the early years -- I miss shoe box valentines from elementary school and all the goodies and treats.

bhbner2him said...

Any day we share and express love is a good day.  ;o)  -  Barbara