14 February 2020 - Valentine's Day: a controversial celebration?
Valentine’s Day: A Festival of Love or a Giant Scam?
Spencer Bokat-Lindell (The New York Times, 13/02/2020)
Nobody really knows how Valentine’s Day began. Depending on your sources, its origins can be traced back to an ancient Roman fertility festival involving sacrificial goats or to a Chaucer poem about birds. “It is one of those mysterious historical or antiquarian problems which are doomed never to be solved,” The Times wrote in 1853.
It’s perhaps just as well that the holiday’s history remains disputed. Either thousands or hundreds of years later, Americans seem likewise unable to agree on whether Valentine’s Day is a hallowed celebration, a marketing scam that entrenches the hegemony of the nuclear family or just a harmless convention that everyone needs to calm down about. Here’s a bouquet of perspectives to help you figure out your feelings about the tradition, which, unlike most relationships, is not going to end.
This Valentine's day, time to let go of manufactured desire
Steven W. Thrasher (The Guardian, 14/02/2018)
Perhaps the major lesson of my peripatetic life has been learning to let go of desire –desire for sex, for romance, for a normative family, for economic security, for consistent housing, for what was once called a “job” in the United States, or for any particular outcome in life. Like most of us, I have been taught to long for many things I likely will never have and may not even really want (which can alienate me from the many blessings of my life).
Valentine’s Day is a good occasion to reflect not just on how days like this set us up for disappointment by manufacturing desires for particular outcomes, but also to consider two of the worst effects of desire itself: entitlement and sadness.
The ancient story behind Valentine's Day is more brutal than romantic
Aine Cain (The Independent, 14/02/2017)
How have we reached the point where the US is set to spend $30 billion on Valentine's Day? It all goes back to a mysterious, third century saint who suffered a brutal fate.
St. Valentine of Terni was martyred in 269 C.E. (or somewhere around then — it kind of depends on what martyrology you're reading). According to legend, the Roman physician and priest was beaten, stoned, and beheaded for the crimes of marrying Christian couples ... and possibly attempting to convert Emperor Claudius II. Thanks to the marital angle of his story, Valentine became the patron saint of love, young people, and marriages (and also of plague, epilepsy, and beekeepers).
Affordable valentine's day gifts for a generation of people who will probably never be able to afford their own homes
Ginny Hogan, illustration by Eva Hill (The New Yorker, 12/02/2019)
A macaroni necklace is the perfect way to say, “Sorry, I turned our dinner into a gift.”
A home-cooked meal: your partner loves cereal.