Friday, February 13, 2009

The Annual Valentine's Day Rant

Dear new readers, 

My name is Mandy, and I like to rant about Valentines Day. Every. Single. Year. Now before you go thinking I'm going to rant about the commercialism or the horrible-terribleness of the forced romance on this 14th day of February, let me inform you: I am pro-Valentines Day!

My friends all know this because, well, I do love to shove anything I care about down their throats any chance I get (thus the blog). I do not love Valentine's Day because of the gifts (though I do love a good gift), or the flowers (I can say with complete and total honesty that I would rather get flowers on ANY other day of the year instead of Valentine's day), or the date (we go on very romantic dates every single weekend; why should this be any better?). 

All this to say, I do not love Valentine's day because I have someone. And I believe that you should love it even if you don't have someone right now. Don't be my bitter friend this Valentine's Day.

The reason I love Valentine's day is because of its history. You know, this one. Valentine believed so much in the importance and sanctity of marriage that he married couples even though it was against the law. He was literally sent to prison and put to death (in quite a violent way) because he believed so strongly in marriage. AND, as an added bonus, he got a little love story of his own with the jailer's daughter along the way! How cool is that?

Now, the twist to this year's Valentine's rant is the fact that I've been pondering the fact that some of my Christian friends get completely excited to celebrate Halloween every year, yet hate the idea of Valentine's day. Really? Let's look a little bit at Halloween's history:

On the night of October 31, [The Celts] celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

This is such a stark contrast to the celebration of Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day is based on Christian values, while Halloween is based on remarkably pagan values. So why do my Christian friends hate Valentine's day and love Halloween?

I am definitely not saying that you're bad or un-Christian for celebrating Halloween. I enjoy a baby dressed as a pumpkin as much as the next girl (okay, maybe not quite as much as the next girl). But just remember the history of these holidays and what you're really celebrating before you go knocking V-day.

And before you say that "the history of the holiday doesn't matter here in the present," have you forgotten the way you preach "remember the reason for the season," and "don't take the CHRIST out of CHRISTmas" every year at Christmas? That's important. And this is too.

And now... bitter friends, bring on the angry comments. ;-)


Amanda said...

You raise very good points, the reason behind the holiday is very nice. Also, the commercialism argue doesn't work because people still like Christmas (even those who aren't Christains.) Despite all that, I still don't enjoy it. I think it's been ruined by all the whining. (That and the combination of red and purple, ugh!) So I just pretend its just another day, like presidents day...but without the sales.

Chris said...

Just because I love a good argument...

I'm not the world's greatest anything, much less the world's greatest Christian, but I'm reminded of Abraham...who was TOLD by God to offer his son in sacrifice. Now, we're taught that this demonstrates Abraham's complete devotion to God (and Isaac's complete lack of any deductive reasoning skill), and that at the very last minute (if it were a movie, Mandy's 8-word review would probably contain the word "predictable"), a ram is provided to sacrifice instead, which Abraham does.

So at some point, our loving God apparently fell in with some of those disreputable Celtic gods, and started demanding ritual animal sacrifice, because it's not like Abraham said, "hey, God, don't mean to be a pest, but this whole sacrificing thing is coming WAAAAY outta left field, and you're just kinda springing it on me last minute...and he is my boy..." Abraham accepted the practice without question as "normal", with the only extraordinary part being that God demanded that it be Isaac and not some hapless lamb.

Jacky said...

Mandy, I love Valentine's Day, too! Although right now it's not doing that much for me. My sweetie has to work all day, and my dad wouldn't let us do anything anyway. But I'm looking forward to being a married valentine! =)

Jamie McLaughlin said...

yea I love people who love arguments. It is true that there is really very little in the Christian religion that is new. There are a lot of things we borrowed like the date of our Lord's birth and traditions kept from pagan religions like icons and saints. In fact I think we would be hard pressed to find anything "new" in Christianity. And I am going to stop now or I would go on forever. Actually I think I just found the topic for my first book. It won't be for the faint of heart or faith let me tell you.

Happy Valentines day. Hey is this your very first Valentines as a married woman???

Mandy and Jack said...

Chris, I hadn't had time to reply to you before, but I'm finally getting around to it now.

The sacrificing is not my problem. You're right about sacrifice being in the Bible. In fact, it's extremely important - since sin separates us from God, the sacrifice thing in the Old Testament was how we dealt with that. Then, when Jesus died and rose again, he became the sacrifice for those of us who accepted Him and we no longer had to sacrifice animals.

The problem with what the Celts were doing wasn't that they were sacrificing, it's to whom they were sacrificing. They had many gods that they would worship, which is a big no-no for Christians (Exodus 20:3). Another problem with this is the fortune telling - Leviticus 19:31 tells us not to "turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them." Third, the part about the ghosts of the dead returning to earth should be a problem for Christians since the Bible says that we die once, then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27) - heaven for believers, hell for non-believers. It's as simple as that and there's no in-between. While I agree that there are truly demons in this world, I do not believe they are spirits of anyone who has lived here, and they are definitely not something that Christians want to mess with in any way.

That's why we should have a problem with the history of Halloween. It's not about the sacrificing thing.

Shane said...

How many boxes of chocolate is it safe to feed my woman before she develops "fatness?"

Mandy and Jack said...

YOUR woman? A million.