Valentines’ Day is all about Love, but how do you celebrate something that cannot even be described? With the colour red, cupids and hearts? I cannot help but wonder if the majority of the population even know why red, cupids and hearts are part of the Valentines celebration. This is the reason I have never been a huge fan of consumer-driven holidays.
Love is so important that we can almost call it our reason for living. St. Valentine, the man whom Valentines’ Day is named after, believed in Love so much that he risked his life for it. We need to ask ourselves what Love really means to us before we are able to celebrate it, otherwise we are mindlessly celebrating a tradition we really know nothing about. I believe we can honour the Valentines tradition through conscious decisions.
How much thought goes into buying a card and teddy bear from the shop? Isn’t the Love you share with another person too unique to be described in the generalised wording in greeting cards? If you look at a shelf with twenty or a hundred equally cute imported teddy bears; don’t you think that the person you are buying it for deserves more on a day that celebrates your special intimate Love relationship? To have such a relationship means you have a unique and close bond with someone and that you can honestly share your emotions because you will not be judged or rejected.
It is estimated that about a billion Valentines greeting cards get sent every year, can we try and comprehend the environmental impact of the manufacturing and transport of these cards which will all eventually end up in the bin anyway? Let us this Valentines’ Day honour the uniqueness of our loved ones and honourably love the planet at the same time. And if you have children, get them involved and show them how to celebrate the uniqueness of Love relationships.
Letters to Loved ones
Here is the challenge for this Valentines Day, inspired by the 28 year old Jakes Hendrikse who not only wrote a letter and a poem for his girlfriend, but also put a stamp on it and posted it: Find some handmade, recycled or sustainable paper, also a pen that you are comfortable with, put the computer off and write a letter to your loved one. Yes, I did say write and not type. This letter will mean significantly more to your loved one than any card you will buy in the shop, because they will know that you have put thought into it. I remember as a child looking at letters written between my grandparents during World War II thinking that they are written on plain paper with uncomplicated words on them yet they possess a very magical feeling. The feeling of; waiting in anticipation. We have similar feelings today, but instead of waiting for weeks or even months we wait for an email, phone call or text message.
You don’t have to be a writer to write a letter to your loved one. All Love relationships whether they are with a lover, parent, child or friend have their own unique and sometimes secret language; this language or way of communicating with each other is perfect for a letter. It not only reflects the uniqueness of the relationship but also the closeness of the bond between you. It is what makes it special. This is your opportunity to honestly share your emotions and put them into words.
If you are not quite sure where to start, here are some guidelines: Remember pleasant and or amusing past experiences you have shared. If necessary apologize for mistakes or failure to appreciate. Share future plans for the relationship. Give details of your gratitude towards them. Also remind them why you Love them; this should not include the fact that they are mother or father to your children, but rather things you Love about them. Write with confidence and let go of any feelings of judgement or rejection as these feelings should not be part of any Love relationship.
Indulge your loved one
Let 2012 be the year that we consciously decide to not follow the ‘consumer driven herd’. Even living green is starting to become fashionable, rather than conscious decision making. We comfortably have everything at our fingertips which means we don’t have to think so much anymore. The time has come for us to start thinking creatively and give our brain the opportunity to form new patterns. Stop for a moment and think about your person, what is really unique about him or her, what are those intimate details you share with only that person, and then think about how you can include that uniqueness into the way you choose to treat them on Valentine’s Day.
If your loved one is really fond of traditional Valentine’s Day gifts you can still personalise them as well as find an eco friendly alternative. Instead of flowers buy a pot plant, seeds or better yet an indigenous tree you can plant together, that way the memory of this Valentines’ Day could be nurtured for years to come and does not end up in the trash after two weeks. You can find a plant, seeds or tree that reflects some aspect of your person or relationship. If you would like to give chocolates, buy organic chocolate or the healthier and greener option carob. Since the whole carob pod is edible in comparison to cocoa where only after processing you can use merely the seeds. Carob is also naturally sweet which means no sugar needs to be added. Personalise the chocolate or carob by melting and then pouring it into moulds adding your person’s favourite nuts and dried fruit. Jewellery is also a popular Valentines’ Day gift, try to find a local jeweller or community project in your area and support them. You are likely to find something very unique from their collections. If you are looking for something that smells nice, buy certified organic perfume or cologne avoiding harmful toxins.
It’s been said over and over again that it is most environmentally friendly to have a romantic evening at home. Buy organic ingredients and prepare a mouth watering meal by candle light. Save some water and also have a romantic bath together. Support local institutions in your area for example parks, nature reserves and museums, visit local spas for some pampering, or how about hiking, horse riding or a picnic on the beach if you like the outdoors. Aquariums are considered one of the best places to have a date so if you are in Cape Town, log onto the Two Oceans Aquarium facebook page, enter the Valentine’s competition and stand a chance to win a Valentine’s dinner at the aquarium valued at R750!
For the kids
Children love the secrecy that goes with Valentine’s Day, sneaking a “Be my Valentine” note into that special someone’s school bag. Encourage your children to also find the uniqueness within others and make something that reflects that. Show them how to make a Valentines Day note out of magazine clippings and then help them to fold an origami heart out of the note (See website below for full instructions). Help them to also mould some organic chocolate or carob, or help them bake some heart shaped cookies to decorate. And then while you help them also inform them that the ancients considered the human heart to be the centre of all emotions, it also beats faster when we see someone we have feelings for. Also inform them that red is considered to be the colour that represents passion, that cupid was the son of Venus the goddess of Love and that it is also believed that the “X” represents a kiss because back in the day when people couldn’t write they signed their names with a X and then kissed the X to show honesty. Teach your children to be creative by being creative yourself. You can find some more great Valentines Day craft ideas by following the links below.
Have a Love filled Valentines’ Day everyone!
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By Marguerite Venter