Mid-February may be the coldest time of year, but ironically, it is associated with love and warmth, and all good feelings. We can thank Saint Valentine for that. Evidently, there were at least 14 saints with that name who were martyred in ancient Rome. One was known for marrying Christian couples. It cost him his head.
Saint Valentine is not only the patron of happy marriages, but he watches over bee keepers, those who suffer with the plague, and epilepsy. He also protects against fainting.
These days most of us do not worry much about the plague or even fainting. For us, Saint Valentine’s Day is all about love. The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in “Parlement of Foules” (1382), by Geoffrey Chaucer. Since then, this observance has blossomed into an explosion of roses, lace and hearts galore (chocolate and otherwise). It may be the only time of year when we really think red and pink look good together. Throw in some purple prose, a ton of rococo curlicues, and there you have the recipe for a teen girl’s dream, or a grown man’s nightmare.
Even more than Christmas, this is probably the holiday that inspires the most gift-giving terror, expectation and, ultimately, disappointment. Gifts are de rigueur, and they are fraught with symbolism. Are roses enough? Is jewelry too much? Under every little bow is an emotional time-bomb, ticking against the sides of the box.
Of course, for those not romantically involved, the excitement can turn into a complete psychic meltdown. Humans desire, sometimes even demand, love. Valentine’s Day can open wounds that are nicely healed most of the time.
This is the perfect holiday to spread love (rather than the hip-spreading that results from too much chocolate). Romantic love may elude us this year, but there are so many other kinds of love.
You can find a lot of love at the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society … and yes, it is for sale. For the cost of shots and spaying, you can take home a little darling who will adore you unconditionally. Choosing just one is the hard part. There is a bit of heartbreak in leaving the others behind. No single person can save them all. However, each pet that is adopted is one more freed from a sad fate. I promise that Cupid’s arrows will instantly strike your heart.
Everyone has a talent. Teaching and sharing what you know, aiding an elderly person with yard work, or perhaps just giving an overworked mother a hand with child care, are all means to spread love. Volunteering time is a wonderful way to get more love than you gave. And, I predict that there will be many hugs in return.
If you must be surrounded with candy and flowers this week, there is always the option of buying them for yourself. Why not? This is one way to be assured of getting what you like, with no disappointments.
We all know that love multiplies exponentially. Giving it is the only way to have it returned. (Well, except in those scary movies with creepy stalkers. No one wants the affection that they offer.) So, no matter if you are in a storybook romance, or giving love to pets and friends, love remains just what it is, a beautiful way to express your humanity and generous heart.
Feb. 14 is the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s martyrdom. Let’s all try to keep our heads. After all, it is only a day on the calendar. Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers (and especially to my sweetheart, Chris!) I hope your lives are filled with love.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina. Email reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.