Have you ever wondered why they make such a big deal out of Valentine’s Day? Next Monday, they’ll even close down everything because Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year.
How did things get so out of hand? The Romans had this nice little bawdy festival called Lupercalia. It was the Super Bowl of Sex in those days. After sacrificing goats and a dog, priests dressed up in goat girdles and ran around slapping women with goatskin straps to help take away their infertility. Kind of like sending someone you love a Goat-Gram.
But the person most responsible for making Valentine’s Day a commercial success was Al Capone. Times were bad. Valentines weren’t selling. So the greeting card companies hired Capone to stage a media event in a Chicago garage. It must have worked. This year, Hallmark estinates 840 million cards will be sent.
You used to be able to buy a whole box of Valentines for a quarter. They just said “To My Valentine.” Now they have hundreds of “special cards”—cards for mothers, fathers, wives, and sweethearts. They have humorous cards, and not so humorous cards. They have contemporary cards and cards with Miss Piggy. I didn’t see any special cards for mistresses or gay people. I suppose cards to “secret pals” should be sent to them.
For a long time I though Valentine’s Day had been invented by the candy companies. For a while, they were thinking of changing the name to Whitman’s Sampler Day. Don’t you hate the fact that they will only give you one chocolate-covered cherry and nobody will touch your nougats?
The best thing is to get married on Valentine’s Day. Besides showing her how much you love her, you’ll save buying one present each year. Even better, marry someone whose birthday is on Valentine’s Day, too.
Now let’s see, what can I send that special someone for Valentine’s Day? Mushy cards are up to $2.50. I can’t send candy, either. She always grabs the chocolate-covered cherries. I could send her up to the Toyota dealer. They’re having a romantic Valentine’s Day Special on lube jobs. But no…
It’s time to get back to basics. Let’s remember the real meaning of Valentine’s Day. Does anybody know ehere I can find a goat?
This op-ed column first appeared in the feisty Mt. Washington Press on February 10, 1982.