Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at Encounter. Whether coupled or single, love is for everyone. Inforum posted great facts about the history of Valentine’s and some suggestions on how to spend your day no matter your relationship status.
The ancient Greeks recognized six different kinds of love, yet every Valentine’s Day, we seem to focus only on romantic love (those groovy Greeks referred to sexual passion as “eros”). Yet our relationships extend far beyond just significant others.
So this Valentine’s Day, we wanted to celebrate lots of different types of love and all the people we celebrate with — whether you’re with your family, a group of beloved friends or by yourself.
Valentine’s Day is second only to Christmas as the most popular holiday for exchanging cards, according the Greeting Card Association. An estimated one billion cards will be sent this year. But do you really know how this holiday full of hearts, flowers, chocolate and romance became what it is today?
Who is it named after?
Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, but like some romances, the holiday itself gets a little more mysterious because experts aren’t exactly sure who Valentine was.
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus.
The first is a priest who served in third-century Rome where the emperor had just outlawed marriage because he believed single men made better soldiers. Valentine defied his orders and continued to perform marriages in secret.
Other stories suggest Valentine was imprisoned for helping Christians escape Roman prisons and he wrote letters to his love signed “From Your Valentine.”
According to the the History Channel, no one can be certain which story is true, but most often Saint Valentine is considered a romantic hero of the Middle Ages.
Most historians suggest February was chosen for Valentine’s Day not because it commemorated the death or birth of Saint Valentine, but because it was a way for the Catholic Church to make the pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia — which fell in mid-February — more Christian.
Why cards, flowers, hearts and chocolate?
Records show as early as the 1600s in Great Britain, lovers were exchanging handwritten notes and gifts on Valentine’s Day. According to the History Channel, in 1840s America, the “Mother of Valentine” Esther Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines made from lace, ribbon and colored paper.
Flowers have long symbolized love, marriage, romance and fertility.
Hearts take center stage thanks to the Greek, who believed the heart was the center of the soul — the place where emotion, including romantic love, lived.
As far back as the Aztec society, chocolate was called “the food of the gods.” Then in 1861, British chocolate maker Richard Cadbury (of Cadbury creme egg fame) decided to make the first heart-shaped box to display his product, forever cementing the relationship between chocolate and Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples. The holiday has morphed to include both single men and women with celebrations of self-love and platonic relationships. More than a quarter of single Americans reported to Entrepreneur magazine that they plan to do something for Valentine’s Day.
Local singles can find a multitude of options; in fact, Fargo ranks the third best city to be single in U.S. according to a 2017 Smart Asset study. Here are some activities for those who chose to be uncoupled this holiday.
1. Dress up and choose to go out to dinner or a show.
A study by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology demonstrates people act differently based on what they wear; in the study, a lab coat described as a doctor’s coat increased sustained attention compared to wearing a lab coat described as a painter’s coat. Singles can dust off that fancy suit or little black dress and go out dinner with friends or by themselves.
2. Treat yourself with flowers or small gift.
Take time to celebrate yourself with a small gift. Last year, 14 percent of women sent themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day. Men can treat themselves with small gift like a watch. Pizza lovers can purchase heart-shaped pies from local pizza places.
3. Give a non-traditional greeting card.
On Etsy, several anti-Valentine’s Day cards can be purchased with messages like “Happy Singles Awareness Day” and “I hate everyone (you…not as much)” from various artists. Locals can find original cards and gifts from local artisans in several of the boutique gift shops in town like Unglued downtown or Vintage Point in south Fargo.
4. Spend time with family members or friends.
John Cacioppo highlights in his book “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection” that people with a stronger social support network are happier, recover more quickly from surgery and disease and are at lower risk for depression. Go to dinner with a friends or family members and clock some quality time with loved ones.
Incorporate the entire family
For those with young children, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to help them understand all the different ways to appreciate love in their lives. Here are a few ways to incorporate your entire family into the day dedicated to love.
Send love notes. Help kids write notes to grandparents, extended family members or friends and either hand-deliver or mail them. Have them include photos or artwork with the special note.
Incorporate special meal-time items. Make heart-shaped pancakes with red food coloring mixed into the batter. Use a cookie cutter to send a heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Serve strawberries, red peppers, tomatoes, apples and any other red food for dinner.
Express appreciation for each family member. Similar to how you might share what you’re grateful for at Thanksgiving, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell each other how much they mean to you.
Share Valentine’s Day traditions. Tell your kids how you celebrated the day when you were their age, then call Grandma and Grandpa to find out what they did. Talk about similarities and differences in the traditions.
Start a Valentine’s Day telephone chain. Call a family member or close friend and have everyone take turns saying how much you love them. Then request that the person keep the telephone chain going by calling someone they love and requesting the chain continues.
Singer Michael Bolton pokes fun at himself in “Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special.” Special to The Forum
Take the XXX out of Netflix
Sometimes “Netflix and chill” means just watching a movie. If you’re looking for a laidback way to mark Valentine’s Day with or without someone special, here are some low-key options for your viewing entertainment.
“Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special” – In this spoof, the romantic crooner plays up the F-word — funny! Seriously though, this isn’t for children.
“Princess Bride” – If you’re looking for a funny fairytale for the whole family, finding anything better is inconceivable.
“Precious Puppies” – In this fascinating look at … OMG! Look at these adorable dogs! Oh, I want that one! No, wait, that one! I want to cuddle them all!
“Moonrise Kingdom” – In his offbeat style, Wes Anderson explores young love with a cast of quirky characters and fantastic sets.
“Amelie” – Perhaps the most charming movie of the last 20 years, this French classic captures the romantic imagination.
“Parks and Recreation” – Ladies, if you celebrate “Galentine’s” Day, you already know how funny this series is, but it never hurts to revisit it.
“Sherlock” – Dudes, if you’re looking for a little bromance for your own Valentine’s Day celebration, check out the BBC’s devilishly smart, modern take on the world’s greatest detective.