Monday, February 16, 2009

To Valentine, or Not to Valentine?

I know many of my Orthodox friends don't dabble in this most holy of holidays (I'm only half-kidding here), but I'm wondering if this is the standard among the observant community. I know that Valentine's Day is the day that two Catholic saints were killed/martyred, so I'm guessing this is why observant Jews don't trade little sweets or cards with their sweethearts. But it seems to be one of those Westernized things that people just do. Now, I know this argument is used by a lot of non-observant Jews for celebrating Christmas, but I don't know that it's the same thing. There aren't any religious elements tied to Valentine's day really. At least, in my mind, it's just a reason to buy your sweetheart something.

I had a friend in elementary school who was a Jehovah's Witness, so she was always pulled out of school on the holidays when we had holiday celebrations (this was in Southern Missouri, mind you, and we celebrated everything -- Valentine's, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's, you name it). But every holiday that the rest of us got gifts, she did, too. Her birthday would role around and she'd get gifts for "being a good kid" not because it was her birthday. It seemed like such a cop-out, and it drove me nuts even as a 10-year-old. Thus, I have no desire to be one of those kind of people who feigns a reason to give.

So Tuvia and I traded gifts, went out for dinner, and got all dolled up for the evening. If it's one of those things where my rav says "you can't do Valentine's anymore" then, well, if there's a good halakic reason, I'm done. What are your thoughts? Did you give it up? Do you still slip your sweety a valentine? Do you exchange gifts but not because of the holiday?

(This is the bracelet he got me. My wrist looks hugely fat. Weird. Anyway, there are several charms on there, check 'em out!)