Valentine’s Day and Our Health

Costco’s French macarons Valentine’s style

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14 celebrations have had many justifications, some of them very strange. Historians describe the Valentine’s Day of many centuries past as a dark holiday involving drunken, naked Roman romantics who “sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped” — or according to one source, ‘gently slapped’— “women with the hides of the animals they had just slain, an action said to make the women fertile.” 

At the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 Saint Valentine’s Day, perhaps in honor of three different saints named Valentine who were executed by the Romans for various reasons, and thus martyred.

Fast forward to the fourteenth century and Valentine’s Day became associated with courtly love. 

These days, some people roll their eyes and call this day a Hallmark Holiday for putting pressure on people to spend money on cards, candy, flowers and dining out. 

To me, Valentine’s Day is a day of friendship. I started celebrating in elementary school — didn’t most of us?— by handing out goofy cards to classmates with one underlying message: I count you as my friend. 

The area zoo is keeping up the tradition, emailing donors two cards to print and cut out. Two bear cubs snuggled together say, “You are so beary special.” And a porcupine asks, “Quill you be my Valentine.”

I continued celebrating Valentine’s Day at work, putting the same silly style card and a piece of chocolate on friends’ desks. And speaking of Valentine candies, a recent New York Times article talks about the history of messages on candy hearts and the work of candy companies to create new messages and toss out dated ones. Over time “Call Me,” changed to “Fax Me,” which became “Page Me,” then “Email Me” and most recently, “Text Me.” What’s next? “Sincere and romantic Chatbot AI-produced messages, of course.

two models

I made Valentine cards this week and sent them to friends. Why? First, I enjoy doing it, but there are other reasons. For eighty-five years, Harvard University has done a study to find out what keeps people going as they age. The researchers say, “It’s not career achievement, or exercise, or a healthy diet” that’s the most important factor in health and longevity.  “It’s good relationships.”

To keep living well, maybe we should make every day a sort of Valentine’s Day.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Valentine’s Day and Our Health

  1. Darlene Bishop says:

    Well said today, Ann—Perfect recap of the holiday over time. Seemingly a bit bizarre in ancient days, but fun to read a bit of history. I always send out valentine cards to a few people—nice to let them know I’m thinking about them—last year I knitted hearts and glued them to card stock and again mailed them out—Happy Valentine’s Day friend! 💕

  2. Karen Clark says:

    Loved your card!

  3. Marilyn Pedersen says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Happy Valentine’s Day. 💕

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