“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”
– Chaucer, Parliment of Foules
[“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]
In the days before Valentines Day it may be appropriate to not only reflect on the first recorded matching of Valentines Day with the expression of Love, but also to look at what this day has become today.
Not only did Chaucer discuss this period of time, but so too did Shakespeare and many of the great renaissance writers. Poems were written, racy anonymous verses were exchanged, courtly love exchanged. Expressions of love flourished. This changed to the production of cards in the late 1700 and then mass produced cards in the paper factories of the 19th Century.
Up until the latter half of the 20th century, Valentines Day was certainly a time to exchange cards and thoughts with loved ones. However this evolved to adding of gifts. Suddenly Valentines Day began to be about roses, chocolate and then jewelry.
Yet in all the commercialization – as our children take paper valentines to school to exchange with class mates – something seems to have been forgotten or misplaced.
Today the estimates on exchanging Valentines reached just over 1.5 Billion. This does not include the e-cards and other Internet based exchanges. But why do we need to wait for Valentines Day to share our feelings? Is it because for men (using a broad generalization here) expressions of love are sometimes difficult? Or is it for women who (again another generalization) do net hear enough from their partner a true expression of feelings because open communication is often bouncing off walls constructed in each other’s psyche? Or is it because media and commercialization has taught our society that the only ‘safe’ time to exchange feelings is during this one day (even though we will be *immediately* judged on the quality and dollar value of our gift. As if by spending more we love more)?