I know I wrote about this last year, but I’m writing about it again because it still aggravates me and I figure I might as well aggravate you, too. Spread the irritation around, that’s my motto. My first mistake was walking up to the greeting card rack in the store to buy a couple of Valentine’s Day cards.
As I stood there reading the cards I discovered something I never knew before. All my life I had assumed that February 14th was Valentine’s Day. How stupid of me. According to many of the cards I read, this holiday is called Heart’s Day. I must have been living a sheltered life all these years not to know this. So “Happy Heart’s Day” everybody!
Not all of the cards in the racks used that phrase, mind you, but enough of them did to lead me to believe that “Hearts Day” is just as acceptable a term to use as Valentine’s Day is. I always hated when people said “Happy Turkey Day” instead of “Happy Thanksgiving” but somehow “Happy Hearts Day” is even more irritating. So, seriously, when did that start? And who decided it was a good idea?
Could the reason be that uber-politically-correct marketing people are afraid to use Valentine because its origins are Christian? Some historians say the ancient Roman Emperor, Claudius II, executed two men — both named Valentine — on February 14 of different years in the third century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Does calling it Heart Day have to do with the fact that in recent years Valentine’s Day has been linked to women’s health? Whatever the reason is, it’s a ridiculous sounding name. Yet another dumbing down in our already dumbed-down society.
We might as well call Independence Day “Fireworks Day” and St. Patrick’s Day “Wearing Green Day.” See where this goes? Then we have Christmas being called “Santa Claus Day” and Easter “Coloring Hard-boiled Eggs Day.” Jewish children will no longer celebrate Hanukkah; the new designation will be “Dreidel and Latkes Week.”
But getting back to Valentine cards, I had to go to three different stores before I could finally find a card for my sister. I’ve been getting her Valentine cards just about all our lives, so I had no idea it was going to be such a big magilla. There are cards for everyone else in the world, including for and from your dog or cat. (They still make Valentine cards for wives and husbands, which is kind of surprising considering that so many young people today aren’t getting married anymore.)
In the first two large chain stores I went to, there were a few cards for a sister to give to a sister, but no cards from a brother to give his sister on Valentine’s Day. The third store had one, so I bought it. I wonder if I’ll be able to find one next year. I won’t bet my pension on it.
In the future I’m sure we’re headed for the end of paper greeting cards completely. Just as bookstores and record shops have disappeared from the public square, so will greeting cards. And that will be too bad because it will mark another loss for one of those small, sweet niceties of life. In the big scheme of things it won’t matter much to the world in general.
The human race is pretty resilient to change. Somehow we people are able to adapt to whatever new and different things come our way. If I can live without five and dime stores, full service gas stations, free paper bags in the supermarket, incandescent light bulbs, telegrams and public pay phones then I’ll survive without greeting cards too.
But I won’t like it.
Greg Crosby is a writer and cartoonist and former executive at the Walt Disney Company.