On this day there are literally millions of greeting cards, boxes of candy and bouquets of flowers crisscrossing the country, if not the globe. Welcome to Valentine’s Day. The plan today is to not rehash the typical cynical view that many have of Valentine’s Day, there is a question in these words, which will be addressed. But first a brief history.
The origins of Valentine’s Day is a mystery to most and, like any good holiday or tradition there is debate as when it was started and why. Saint Valentine is thought to be a third century priest that lived in Rome during the rule of Claudius II. Claudius felt that unmarried soldiers made the best ones so he outlawed marriage for them, St. Valentine did marriages for them anyway. The second theory is that St. Valentine was jailed and sent the first valentine to his jailers daughter who visited him. The third theory is that he helped Christians escape jail and tortures in Rome. It would seem that our modern Valentine’s Day traditions stem from 17th century Britain when people first began to send cards and gifts to one another.
How did we go from a single priest standing up to the Romans to red and pink heart-shaped boxes and over priced flowers? At one point or another we are all guilty falling into the trap that is Valentine’s Day. When a guy first ventures out into the world of dating and women his father pulls him aside and offers up some pearls of wisdom; Be a gentleman, don’t swear on a first date, ask her a lot of questions, wear clean underwear because you never know and all women love Valentine’s Day. Armed with this information we all blindly wander out to meet destiny.
My wife, Milena, who is Serbian, HATES Valentine’s Day. She wants nothing to do with it in any way, like a fat kid and a carrot stick. When we first started dating she told me this and I thought she was telling me that because she thought that’s what I wanted to hear. She also told me that she would never get married, “It’s so stupid”. I told her no problem and warned her that this is where she is setting the bar and that’s how it will be as long as we are together. And, she was fine with it. She went on to warn me that there was to be no flowers or gifts sent to work for her, ever. The squeals of delight and constant aroma of roses drifting past in the office every February 14th annoy to no end. How could anyone be expected to work in such conditions?! So that is how it has been for the 6 years that we have been together; no gifts, no candy, no cards. The day passes like any other.
Last year though? I decided to test the waters, I got brave. In my mind I started to talk myself into it, Valentine’s Day.
“Maybe things have changed, maybe she really wants something now. After all we are married now right? I bet she is regretting saying that when she did. I bet she wishes she got something this year. All women want a little romance on Valentine’s Day”.
So I started putting away a little cash in my drawer, a couple bucks here and there. There was no other choice than to do it this way, she is fanatical when it comes to our finances and accounts. She would know within 10 minutes if I had bought something. I went to a local jeweler and picked out a bracelet for her, it wasn’t anything too over the top or expensive, just a little something for my lady. I waited for her to get home that day and had dinner ready and the gift. Her response was not quite what I had expected. She looked at the bracelet, then me and commented that she “wears a watch, how can I wear this too”?
The next day I took it back. I wasn’t crushed by her reaction, more surprised. Surprised that I was wrong and surprised at her consistency. She really meant what she said, it was no joke.
The question I pose is: Are all women of Serbian descent like this, do they truly not care about Valentine’s Day? Do they recognize this holiday in Serbia? Or have I just hit the jack-pot and been excused from this holiday for the rest of my life?