February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day rituals

Here is a comment thread in a "senior citizens" section, where people tell what Valentine's Day was like when they were growing up in school. Looks like the tradition of bringing a special box to collect the cards in dates at least back to the 1940s, probably earlier.

Like our other rituals, Valentine's Day seems to be slowly fading out. For example:

An elementary school in Eugene, Oregon bans Valentine's Day altogether.

High schools in Orange County, Florida ban exchanging gifts on Valentine's Day.

Primary school in England bans giving out Valentine cards.

Horace Mann School near Boston bans Valentine candy.

Elementary school in Mass. bans Valentine's Day and replaces it with Friendship Week.

Obviously an outright ban is just the tip of the iceberg -- more schools must show signs of erosion, they're just not so far gone that they've resulted to a ban. Here is a short thread among 5th grade teachers. One who taught younger kids  implies that she didn't do the Valentine's Day traditions with her lower-grade kids. The other teachers say that about 3/4 of their 5th grade kids participate.

I seem to remember doing the Valentine's Day thing just about every year in elementary school, not just 5th grade. And I think just about 100% of kids took part. Anti-social kids must not mind standing out from the majority these days -- I wonder if they offer some cynical sour grapes rationalization about how it's just a Hallmark holiday, etc.

The candy bans are part of the health food trend. The majority of the bans, though, are based on felt violations of fairness -- any time you produce and distribute a lot of stuff to lots of people, some will end up with more than others. And it won't be random, but will reinforce existing hierarchies, like who's pretty and popular vs. ugly and awkward.

So obviously we must get rid of those traditions to prepare children for a real world where there are no lop-sided distributions, and where people never prefer giving things to some individuals rather than others. Rather than remind them that "life isn't always fair". Shoot, I heard that all the time. And "well that's just tough," i.e. "tough luck".

I doubt the children of helicopter parents (like my nephew) have ever heard those responses -- they're not rational or logical principles that the child can apply to other contexts. They're just a reminder that out in the real world, they aren't always going to get explanations -- "I dunno why I don't wanna be your friend, you're just annoying." Well, like annoying how? "I dunno, you're just annoying. Now go away."

To end on an up note, here's "Everlasting Love" by Howard Jones.  I don't think they make many songs anymore about settling down after having been around the block a few times. Let alone in such an optimistic upbeat way, not in a tone of feeling sorry for yourself or taking your Plans For Settling Down so seriously, like it's a homework project. Anyway, it's got jungle drums, the Egyptian revival, racquetball, dining out instead of eating in -- so much '80s goodness in a single video.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing to do with Valentines, but the 80's were so much more fun and care free:



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