Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Vexed by V-Day

Note: I had almost finished this post in the afternoon, but I hit the wrong key and presto! - no post. Shazbat, as Mork used to say! I've recreated it - sort of - though now the holiday I'm writing about is almost over. Oh well, I'm a last minute kind of guy anyway.

Since I already started discussing this issue on two other blogs, I might as well rush right in where cupids fear to tread, and explain why today's holiday irks me even more than the December biggie.

First of all, as an Orthodox Jew, I do not celebrate "St. Valentine's Day" (SVD), and neither does the vast majority of my community, across the entire right-left spectrum. The Christian and even pagan origins of this holiday are well-documented. I don't buy the rebuttal that SVD today is just a "day of romance", and its title merely an anachronism. Nor, to my sensibilities, is it a "Hallmark Holiday" comparable to Mother's Day. There are two major differences between holidays like SVD and Halloween on the one hand, and ones like Mother's Day and Thanksgiving, which I do celebrate, on the other. Firstly, the known Christian/pagan origins of the former two. Secondly, the fact that the latter two are specifically American holidays, which means a certain implied non-sectarianism, while SVD and Halloween are observed, in one form or another, across the Christian world.

So that being said, why do SVD - and Halloween for that matter - get under my skin worse than Christmas, which obviously is far more pervasive, and for a longer duration each year, than either of the others? Very simple. When it comes to Christmas, as an observant Jew I get a clear pass. In any "holiday" event, either there is some kind of attempt to include Chanukah as part of a "holiday season", or else (preferably as far as I'm concerned) I am very visibly not expected to be involved. So I can stand completely outside - in both my own eyes and those of society - the yuletide goings-on, or even admit to enjoying certain aspects thereof without any implied inclusion.

On the other hand, hardly anyone seems to be even vaguely aware that SVD and Halloween are not holidays for "everyone"! So to me, these Christian holidays are not only pervasive, they are invasive. The subconscious - and sometimes very conscious message is - "You mean you aren't buying your wife a Valentine's gift? You cad - don't you love her??" "You mean your kids don't go trick-or-treating on Halloween? What kind of tyrant are you anyway? I'm calling DYFS!"

In a word, SVD and Halloween are something for me that even Christmas is not - threatening.

Let's make a deal, world. You celebrate SVD and I'll celebrate Tu B'Av. Hey, no one said I don't believe in romance. I just have a more Jewish sense of timing. Plus mid-summer beats mid-February hands down!


At 2/15/06, 11:42 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

I was corrupted in kindergarten. Once I got a Valentine from my beloved teacher, I was hooked.

(See, Mom? You should have sent me to Mrs. Finkel's class instead! Ah, the slippery slope...)

But I don't make a huge fuss over Val Day. It's just one of those, as you say, pervasive (invasive?) cultural events. And an excuse to eat chocolate.

At 2/15/06, 11:49 AM, Blogger Elie said...

I loved Mrs. Finkel's class. I once tried to sell her my baby brother.

I conceded the chocolate issue in a comment back to Shifra (on the previous post)! Both SVD and Halloween are good opps for us yiddin to buy cheap candy the day afterwards! So they do have a good side.


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