So we were sitting around the cutting table at Karina Dresses world headquarters in lovely Bushwick, Brooklyn…and one of the gals asked: What’s the big deal about Valentine’s Day any old way? Well, no one in our office had a good answer. And almost everyone had some anxiety about it for some reason.
Turns out the origins of Valentine’s Day is kinda muddy and not very clear at all. Here are some basic facts from an excellent NPR article:
- From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. Women believed this would make them fertile (I don’t know about you, but I’d be willing to bet oysters work just as well)
- Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
- As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages (Awww… Shakespeare’s such a softy)
- The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines. February has not been the same since.
So Valentine’s Day went from bloody (literally) to sweet to totally commercialized. But its always been woman-centric, in particular the underlying subtext of reproduction, fertility etc. Hmmm…seems fishy to me, says our collective skeptical feminist. Apparently the folks at Everyday Feminism agree with us, and last year they wrote a great post that analyzed the holiday from a thinking gal’s perspective. So whats an everyday, down-to-earth feminist to do on Valentine’s Day? Here’s a couple of feminist-approved ideas:
- Write a love letter to yourself or to your body. Self-love is the basis of all love, romantic or otherwise. So lavish the good stuff on yourself, regardless of what men (or the mainstream fashion media) may say.
- Celebrate V-Day and join in the 1Billion Rising movement to end violence against women around the world.