The Heart-Shaped Holiday

February 6, 2019

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Everyone is seeing red. Valentine’s Day is here. The day for lovers, for family, for friends, for co-workers – the official day when we show the important people in our lives how much they mean to us. The day is celebrated with cards, flowers and chocolates – and lots of them. Many of us grew up with the annual tradition of Valentine’s Day, we remember our parents and grandparents reminiscing about it.
But how long has this special day actually been around? The answer is quite simple: Forever. The beginnings of this romantic day are anything but romantic – they are rather mysterious. Christian and Pagan rituals evolved into the way Valentine’s Day is celebrated today.
Many legends surround the saint named Valentine. One story tells about Valentine, a Roman priest, who secretly married young lovers until he was found out and thrown into prison. There, he fell in love with a young woman who visited him on a regular basis. Shortly before his death he penned her a letter and signed it ‘from your Valentine,’ a phrase that is still associated with this special day. All the tales that speak of the beginnings of this tradition center around a romantic hero named Valentine.
The British Library in London has the oldest Valentine’s card on display – written in 1415 by the Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was held in the Tower of London. Americans started designing their own hand-made cards, beautifully decorated with ribbons and lace, as far back as 1700. In 1840 these cards were replaced by the first printed, mass-produced cards. About 150 million Valentine’s Day cards exchange hands every year, only the number of Christmas cards is higher; 85% are bought by women.
Many countries around the world celebrate the day with their own traditions. Denmark sees the exchange of pressed, white flowers called snowdrops. France, with a reputation for romance, had a rather unusual tradition. On February 14, men and women would fill up houses on opposite sides of a street. Then they would call out to each other and pair off that way. The women who were left behind later gathered for a huge bonfire where they burned pictures of the men who stood them up and insulted them greatly. Over the years, this event got so out of hand that the French government banned it altogether. In China women prepare elaborate offerings of fruit to Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, in hopes of attracting a worthy husband.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

 

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Written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor


6 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship

February 13, 2015

Happy mature coupleValentine’s Day is a day that some people celebrate and a day that others tend to dread.  For everyone, it can be an important reminder to lift our relationships up and to think about the blessings our loved ones provide.  As a marriage therapist, and a spouse of 43 years, I remind myself that it is often the little things that matter most in a relationship.  The memories you share, the experiences you create, and the love you nurture on a daily basis provide the foundation for a lifetime of marriage.

There are some very simple guidelines to follow when you are in a relationship that, if you follow, will support the relationship through difficult times:

1. Agree on How to Disagree

One of the first ground rules is to agree on how to resolve conflicts so that they are managed with respect and result in some form of agreement.  There are several ways couples can chose to do this, but the common thread involves active listening and empathizing with your partner’s intentions, concerns and needs.  While disagreements can often turn animated, it is crucial that the respect for the other person’s thinking and feelings remain paramount.  According to research, about 75% of our marital conflicts are not solvable, yet that should not be the focus of the marriage.  You may have to let go of some expectations.  Your partner may not become the household chef, or share your standards of organization, but in letting go you gain something much richer than a good meal or an orderly home.

2. Give Technology a Break

Turn off technology at an agreed upon time in the evening when you are both home.  This includes everyone in the home, especially pre-teens and teens who want to text and play computer games.

3. Everyone Needs Their Rest

Go to bed at the same time so there is time to cuddle and relax several nights a week.  Ideally, there should be no technology in the bedroom – no TV, no phones, no computer and no paperwork from your job spread across the bed. If you have children, make sure they are in bed and getting the sleep they need.  They also should have no TV or computer games for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.

4. Schedule Time to Relax

As a couple you need to have relaxing time together for 90 minutes or more at least 3 nights a week.  Have evenings that you both agree are “low expectation nights.”  No “we have to talk” discussions should be held after the set relaxation time.  Instead, set a time for those discussions when you both have had time to think about how you can discuss the problem when you are both refreshed with sleep.  If you are sure you are right in a conflict and feel like the victim, you are probably wrong.  You are, in fact, 50% of the answer.

5. Plan a Date Night

Plan a date night every 2 weeks where you have time to relax and talk to each other.  This is a time for play, humor, sharing dreams and goals, and relaxing.  It is not the time to discuss parenting or marital issues.

6. Show a Little Tenderness

Bring kindness into your relationship.  Show that you are thinking about the other person when you are not together by what you do when you are together.  This is not about gifting, but about showing thoughtfulness to the other person.

These are just a few ideas for couples to consider in a relationship. It is important to remember that all relationships require time, resources and energy in order to grow.   Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or dread it, use the day as a reminder to reflect on your commitment and to enrich the love in your marriage.

If you are struggling with your relationship, the counseling staff at LSS can help. Call 1-855-334-2953 or visit www.counseling.lsssd.org to schedule an appointment.

Colleen Miller
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist


More than Cards: Four Valentine’s Activities for Kids

February 11, 2015

LSS Mission: Inspired by God’s LOVE, we care for, support and strengthen individuals, families and communities.  In honor of Valentine’s Day this Saturday, the LSS blog is highlighting LOVE in our posts this week. Hope you LOVE the posts as much as we LOVED writing them!

Valentine’s Day can be tricky for parents and others who work with kids. Young kids don’t really get the meaning of jjvdaythe holiday. And if you are trying to talk to a little boy about Valentine’s Day – it might be met with a reply of YUCK! So how can you go beyond the cards and the candy that this holiday represents to kids? Here are four easy activities adults can do with kids to celebrate this annual day of love.

Make some valentine animals! Animals you can make out of hearts, no way! These are some cute and unique crafts you can make together to give out. Try making a loving elephant, or a friendly fish, you can even make a heart shaped puppy!

What do you love? Talk about things that you love by doing this cupcake craft. This is a great way to find out more about each other and see what you may have in common.

Talk about what you can do for others Really Valentines Day is about loving others. Talk about the special things you would like to do for your loved ones this month to make them feel appreciated.

Where did Valentines Day come from? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Who started this entire holiday about love? Find out by reading this book, you can find it at your local library and talk about how the holiday has changed from then to now.

Have a great week and Happy Valentine’s Day!


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