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10 Dark Things about Valentine’s Day

Love and affection, attraction, gift-giving, delicious food, celebrating the people we love. Yes! Here comes Valentine’s Day and let’s do it, let’s just do it well. Valentine’s Day, as shoved down our throats by advertising and societal expectations and in its own history, carries some dark stories. There’s the 1929 Valentine’s Day Mafia Massacre, for example. Or the sheer number of results (29,300,000) when I google ‘depression after Valentine’s Day.’ Or the fact that Americans spend more on candy for Valentine’s Day than the GNP of a small nation (details in the slideshow). Or that cheating increases the day after Valentine’s Day.

I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day, but I want to love my husband and my children while making wise choices, remaining loyal, eating food that actually tastes good, and not harming others in the process. And I want to do it any day of the year without feeling ordered around by a calendar or a custom. Especially because my family is divided this Valentine’s Day. Two of us will be in Djibouti, three of us will be in Kenya, and the gargantuan nation of Ethiopia will be between us.

I did send goodies and flowers to our kids, or rather I ordered goodies and flowers from the sophomore class as a fundraiser. Homemade cookies and locally-grown roses that I hope will bring some light to Valentine’s Day for my kids.

Click through to see the darker side of Valentine’s Day and think about how you can bring light to your celebration.

  • Happy (Dark) Valentine’s Day 1 of 12
    dark valentine's day

    *image via Flickr

  • Cheating 2 of 12
    cheating

    Ashley Madison, a website that helps people find other with whom to cheat, reports that the day after Valentine's Day, the day after being let down by their partner, the day after their expectations were raised and then crushed, is one of their biggest days of the year. (according to this article in USA Today)

    *image via Flickr

  • Lewd, Violent Origins 3 of 12
    lupercalia

    Some say Valentine's Day traces its roots to an ancient pagan holiday called Lupercalia, in which men stripped naked, grabbed whips, and spanked young women in hopes of increasing their fertility.

    *image via Flickr

  • or Religious, Violent Origins 4 of 12
    st valentine

    Others say Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of early Christian saints, including honoring the graphic martyrdom of some. It became associated with romance in the high middle ages.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Bad Candy 5 of 12
    candy hearts

    Candy hearts are terrible. While generally I like terrible candy, I really can't stomach candy hearts. They taste like painted cardboard, leave a weird powder on your fingers and have creepy messages.

    *image via Flickr

  • Weight Gain 6 of 12
    box of chocolates

    Weight gain. Candy, chocolate, dinner out, wine. There are 1400 calories in a one-pound box of chocolates.

    *image via Flickr

  • Break-Ups 7 of 12
    break up

    Break-ups. Supposedly the percentage of women who would end their relationship if they received nothing for Valentine's Day is 53%. I must fall in the other 47%.

    *image via Flickr

  • Mass Amounts of Money 8 of 12
    dollars

    Money. Last year Americans spent $18.6 billion dollars for Valentine's Day. $1.9 billion on flowers and $1.6 billion on candy. Maybe that isn't a bad thing in your opinion, but compared to the Gross National Product of Djibouti (2011), that is a lot of money. The GNP? $1.24 billion

    *image via Flickr

  • Waste 9 of 12
    waste

    In the two week period leading up to Valentine's Day, American sales of gold jewelry lead to 34 million metric tons of waste. Add that to wrapping paper, candy wrappers, the fuel required to transport flowers ...

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Chocolate and Child Labor 10 of 12
    chocolate and child labor

    In West Africa, cocoa is a commodity crop grown primarily for export. As the chocolate industry has grown over the years, so has the demand for cheap cocoa. Today, cocoa farmers barely make a living selling the beans and often resort to the use of child labor in order to keep their prices competitive … Food is Power.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Flower Power 11 of 12
    flower power

    In a push to meet the demands of Valentine's Day, workers have been reported to log up to 20 hours a day, at 250-300 stems per hour. According to the Victoria International Development Education Association, two-thirds of Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers suffer from work-related health problems, including headaches, nausea, impaired vision, conjunctivitis, rashes, asthma, stillbirths, miscarriages, congenital malformations, and respiratory and neurological problems.

    *image via Flickr

  • Love All Year Round 12 of 12
    happy valentine's day

    I'm really not anti Valentine's Day, I promise. I'm all for love and for showing it and for eating good food and enjoying healthy relationships. But this year my husband is traveling to Kenya on Valentine's Day to visit our kids at boarding school there. So I get to be a little bit of a downer, don't I? We'll just celebrate each other on a different day.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Eat chocolate and enjoy the natural beauty of flowers and stay faithful to the one you chose (even if he is a little strange).

*image via Flickr

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