A February holiday that can elicit emotions ranging from ecstasy and joy to anxiety, depression, nonchalance, or indifference, depending on the person, is Valentine’s Day. Not originally a Hallmark concoction as some suspect, there are a variety of theories on the occasion’s origin. Many historians contend that February 14 was the day St. Valentine was martyred to his defiance of an order banning secret marriages. Others assert that the day originated from a Pagan fertility festival. Still others maintain that the date signifies the beginning of birds’ mating season. The ubiquitous Cupid, in his naked cuteness with love-steeped bow and arrow, is traced to the Greek god of love, Eros. Evolving from a hunky adult male image to that of a precocious pre-toddler probably was a way to provide a more palatable representation of amour for the populace at large in a Victorian era. Sources suggest that the first mass-production of Valentine cards in the US occurred in the 1840’s. As for the first Valentine cards produced by Hallmark, they debuted in 1913, a year before World War I.
I still remember the innocence associated with Valentine’s Day in grade school. In fact, that time period of my youth was my favorite in acknowledging the day. We always had special art projects to celebrate our parents and family. It was amazing what we could conjure artistically with paper doilies, red construction paper, crayons, glitter, and glue, in tandem with the store-bought, heart-shaped, postcard-style cards we’d pass out to everyone in our class. Secret thoughts of a special boy, however, would remain in the private realm of a paperless imagination. And then there were those beguiling little candy hearts with imprinted expressions like “be mine” and “I’m yours.” I was always more interested in their message than their sugar content. I’m glad to see they’re still around to keep the memory alive.
For those who are cynical or curmudgeonly regarding the whole Valentine’s Day brouhaha, or reject its fake, phony, or commercial aspects, or simply can’t be bothered, there is an official Valentine’s Day alternative. Globally celebrated since 2003, also on February 14, it is called International Quirkyalone Day. “Who’da thunk?!” No, I’m not making this up. A do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day. Such choices! There’s something for everyone.
With Lunar New Year as the springboard, February also celebrates Presidents’ Day and Black History Month. For those keeping tabs, the theme for 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness.” Did anyone besides me not know there was an annual theme to Black History Month? All along, I’ve been noting whatever and whomever seems impressive or inspiring on the subject, without thematic reference. Aside from important accomplishments pertaining to this year’s theme, health and wellness, in general, are required for any strides forward. Just progressing from day to day successfully in a Covid reality and a world of upheaval has been a pervasive and global challenge.
As we edge toward the periphery of March, International Women’s Day arrives on March 8 and the whole month is dedicated as Women’s History Month. It, too, has a theme. This year’s is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” If ever there was a time we needed that, this is it. In addition to the multitudes of women who provide healing and promote hope, I say blessings to all individuals who strive to bring positive elements of thought and deed into being. That is certainly reflective of who Karola was and what she believed during her whole life.