A Valentine’s Day resolution

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I try very hard not to be cynical.

I really do.

Life would certainly be much easier if I just took things at face value and didn’t have to search for the underlying motive. But alas, when I see store shelves lined with hundreds of pink and red boxes of chocolate, glittery cards and enough stuffed bears to supply every zoo on the planet, I just find it hard not to be cynical.

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What exactly are we celebrating?

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Valentine’s Day, of course.”

That’s right. But what are we really celebrating?

Some would say love.

Those of us who are cynics would say commercialism.

To this cynic, Valentine’s Day just seems like a brilliant marketing scheme by the candy companies, card companies, and whoever makes those 4-foot tall stuffed bears they advertise on television for $100.

I’ve done a little research on the origins of Valentine’s Day and for the life of me I can’t figure out where the chocolates and stuffed bears come from.

Here’s what I did find out.

According to the History Channel’s website, one story is of Emperor Claudius II, who believed that single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriage for young men during the third century in Rome. Valentine, a priest, disagreed and continued to marry young lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered Valentine’s secret, he ordered that Valentine be put to death.

Another story suggests that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, according to the website. The imprisoned Valentine sent the first “valentine,” to his jailor’s daughter, whom he had fallen in love with, and ended the note “From your Valentine.”

While even the most hardened cynic can surely see the romance in those stories, he or she will likely have a hard time seeing how we got from that to folks spending a reported $2.1 billion on jewelry, $650 million on candy, $424 million on flowers and $1 billion on cards each year.

It’s easy to see why Valentine’s Day is considered to be nothing more than a commercial holiday cooked up by the candy and card companies.

While it’s more than a month past New Year’s Day, and even though I hate New Year’s resolutions, this cynic is turning over a new leaf.

I’m going to take a break from the hard work of being cynical and show Valentine’s Day some love.

Now, if you will excuse me I have to run to the store and get my wife a Valentine’s Day gift.

After all, nothing says love like a glittery card and a 4-foot tall stuffed bear.