Raise your hand!!!
This was spurred by a discussion here at Minnesota Mamaleh about Jews who don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. After all, who wouldn’t love chocolates, cards, hearts, making friends smile? My sister also mentioned the other day that she’s going all out and giving all her friends those old-fashioned kind of cartoon-character cut-out paper “be mine” cards this year.
I started to leave a comment, and then figured, I have a blog: I’ll post it here instead! Plus, it’s a bit long for anybody’s comment section. I’ll just hijack her visitors by posting a link to what is sure to be a thrilling thoughtful post (read on! read on!).
This is a bigger issue than ever before because a couple of years ago, the government of Ontario decided it should be an “official” statutory holiday: Family Day (cuz it’s not PC to include the saint’s name). So it’s now a great big legal beer-selling stay home weekend blowout around these parts, instead of just one day – usually a work/school day – like it was when I was growing up.So... my reasons! There are five altogether:
1) On second (and final) reading of all the five reasons here, I think this is my main reason: in our house, it's already Purim, or at least, the big buildup to it. Why introduce another holiday when there's already one of the best right around the corner? (which often involves kindness and giving things to people even if they're not your favourite people, two things Galit mentioned in her discussion as being fine attributes of Valentine’s Day)
2) There is the thought, and I know it’s not always accurate, that those Jews who are putting a lot of enthusiasm into a “secular” holiday (and no, I don’t buy into the “religious origins” or Valentine’s day… named for a possibly apocryphal saint – slash – historical events) tend to be the ones who are NOT channelling that enthusiasm into, say, Shavuos. Poor Shavuot always gets picked on, but frankly, it’s true. It separates the man-Jews from the boy-Jews; so to speak. There are Jews who do both with fun and festivity and meaning and depth, I’m sure… they should live and be well. I’d just like to suggest that most don’t.
3) Okay, I’ll say it: Commercialism! Galit mentions the Target $1 section, so there is the idea that not everybody is blowing big bucks (though if you watch this video you’ll know that NOTHING costs a dollar…ever, especially if it had to get here from China). I’ll jump down off my high horse because we just hung out at Dollarama today and just say I can’t stand the escalation of “American” holidays into great big whoop-de-do money-spending events (even if it’s just in multiples of $1). They have strings of lights for Hallowe’en now, and everybody buys them. The merchandise! If people want to celebrate Love Day, go and be well, but if it means another month of retailer-driven shopping frenzy ahead of time, well… I’ll opt out, thanks.
4) Here’s a Jewish angle that not everybody will agree with: it is wonderful to live in a free and multi-culti society, but we are supposed to be distinct. Black (hat) is beautiful! Different is good. Far from being a handicap, we must learn to embrace our distinct ways of looking, acting, dressing for what they truly are – weapons which have helped us win many battles over the millennia that we have by and large not celebrated Valentine’s Day. There are so many other days we can befriend our non-Jewish neighbours (so we can invite them in to turn off unwanted stove burners on Shabbos!)… I just don’t feel comfortable doing it on December 25th, February 14th, October 31st, etc. (okay, I have this weakness for March 17th, but, really, who doesn’t love a parade?) (and we really are half-Irish, on Ted’s side!)
5) Finally, Feb 14 has always been a special day on our (secular) calendar: the day I finally got a SISTER! So (as silly and specific as it sounds) we already have a reason to celebrate that day.
So there… not one but five not-too-terrible reasons why this coming Sunday will be just a plain, ordinary Yom Rishon in this Jewish home…