So we sailed rather smoothly through January, braving the snowstorms in each other’s newfound company, and then February arrived. So what? It’s just a month, a month like any other. With the ice thawing outside, and the sun only making a rare appearance in our days, it’s not the happiest of months, but it’s on the short side, and once we’ve hit this gray month, it means we have successfully shed our holiday cheer/depression and settled into the new year.
That is, until the second week of February begins and you realize it’s only one week until that famously dreaded day arrives in all its red-hearted-commercial magnetism - the 14th of February, Valentine’s Day. It can be a delightful day where you celebrate your partner with a card and a loving gesture, or it can make the cynical, the single, and the relationship-phobic among us afraid to leave the house for fear of all the roses and teddy bears that we will be confronted with over the 24 hours that this so-called holiday takes up. I personally have a love/hate relationship with it- if I am with someone, there is a part of me that wants to embrace the silly cheesiness of making this day about ‘us’, and if I am single, there is a part of me that wants to—well I won’t go there. But, if I am in a new relationship, one that hasn’t even yet established what exactly it is, well, I want to skip this day altogether and pretend that February 15th naturally follows February 13th. What 14?- I’ve never heard of it. My new man and I have successfully avoided all talk of what “we are” while enjoying who we are, and the idea of even discussing plans for that day makes me want to call the whole thing off, as Ella Fitzgerald would say. So, rather than hashing it all out here,
I propose that us Jews appropriate our own special day of joy and love, one that arrives way later in the year. For goodness sakes, why are we even paying attention to this SAINT Valentine’s day? According to Wikipedia, it is “named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD.” Really? A Pope established this day that we spend hours worrying over? Well, that doesn’t feel very “Jewish”. What if instead we had a “Song of Solomon” or “Song of Songs” day where us Jews celebrated our relationships- it wouldn’t have to have any religious connotation aside from the fact that it was inspired by a book in the old testament that tells the story of two lovers, but it would arrive and fall on a day after Rosh Hashanah, when the weather is still warm(ish) and our spirits are high and the trees have leaves on them, a joyful time, a time of renewal. There would be no “the reasons I love you” cards to purchase at Duane Reade, but instead we would sing songs to each other of love- that sounds nice and crunchy and happy to me. I don’t mean this in a sacrilegious way, I just think it’s time we did away with the pagan holiday that encourages new relationships to label themselves too fast, and make our own Jewish day of love.
Or maybe not. Either way, happy Valentine’s, Song of Songs, love-yourself day, and I’ll see you on the other side of February 14th – if I can survive it, I know you can.