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So.  I’m sure you’ve all been eying the calendar warily.  You’ve noticed that the most dreaded of holidays for single folk is approaching.  Yes, Valentine’s Day.  But, the thing is, it doesn’t *need* to be a holiday filled with dread, fear, depression, and panic.  I promise.  Fortunately, I’ve been single (or in a long-distance relationship, thereby unable to celebrate with a significant other) for every single Valentine’s day that I’ve lived–so I’ve worked up a large list of other things to do.  And believe it or not, it’s easier than you think to focus on other things on that particular day.  Here’s a few things to keep in mind, and some suggestions on what you can do instead of sitting at home brooding that you’re not attached like Doctor Claw in front of his computer:

  1. So you know that February 14th is actually not really St. Valentine’s day, if you’re Orthodox, right? (I’m making a huge assumption that you are, if you’re reading this blog). Sure, it is on the Catholic Calendar, but do you really trust someone who adds the filioque clause? I don’t. So, remember, it’s a secular celebration. As Orthodox Christians, we are of course enjoined to be in the world, but not of the world; frankly, this is not our holiday, really. We have no need to celebrate romantic love at this point in time during the liturgical calendar. (For those keeping track at home, the feast day for St. Valentine on the Orthodox calendar is actually July 30th, so you have more time to pick up a significant other for Valentine’s day than you think, if you so choose).
  2. On the bright side, since your Valentine’s day isn’t until July 30th, stock up on chocolate on the day after, while everything’s on sale. It’s really hard to find cheap chocolate in July, and you won’t be able to take advantage of Cheap Chocolate Trick for Pascha this year, since Western and Eastern Easter fall on the same day this year.
  3. Valentine’s day began in the middle ages connected to a tradition of courtly love. This sort of love, according to the Troubadours of France and Spain, was best when unrequited. Why are you celebrating it anyway? Be happy that you’re celebrating it the way that these medieval musicians would be celebrating it—single and unattached. In that mode, why not attend a concert, if you find a nice local event that piques your interest. Go alone, or with friends. You never know, you might make some new friends there!  Or, go to a Renaissance Fair! (Which we all know is a pan 10th-17th century festival anyway.)
  4. If you feel like praying, why not find an akathist to St. Tryphon the Pruner? Or, barring that, St. Tryphon the Great Martyr? (His icon opens up this post) Not widely known outside of Bulgaria, St. Tryphon the pruner is the patron saint of winemakers, and his feast day is usually celebrated on the 14th on the Julian Calendar. (For that matter, so is Tryphon the Great Martyr, if you’re an Old Calendar Orthodox Christian.) Throw a St. Tryphon’s Day wine-tasting party for your single friends. Either choose a variety of different wines from the same area, or a comparison of a different varietal across the world. (NB: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, and Merlot are really great wines to do this with)
  5. Or, start preparing ground for your future garden (St. Tryphon is responsible for those, too.) Invite your priest over for the blessing of said garden. (refer to http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2010/01/prayer-to-st-tryphon-for-deliverance-of.html) If you don’t have a garden, or have no room for one, it’s a perfect day to mosey down to the local arboretum or nature preserve, and see what signs of spring can be found there. Do a little birding. After all, in the Middle ages, it was widely believed that birds had paired up by this date (although how this would work for Scarlet Tanagers spending their winters in warm Brazil is beyond me). Be hopeful, knowing that winter is nearly over, at least, according to the calendar. (Already here, in the southwest, the hummingbirds have returned.)
  6. If you live in Arizona, like I do, (or you really like Arizona, or are from Arizona) you can celebrate something else entirely different. February 14th of this year marks the 102nd year of Arizona being a state. I plan on cracking open a bottle of Arizona Syrah and inviting a few of my single friends over for burgers, (as well as happily celebrating the feast date of St. Tryphon on the Julian calendar anyway, and inflicting this information on my Non-orthodox friends. You’d be surprised how open some of your friends are to finding out new information like that!). If you live outside of the Southwest, the only Arizona wine you’ll find is made by Arizona Stronghold, and it’s still very, very tasty—see if you can find their Tazi white blend, or their Mangus red blend at your local liquor store, if you feel like toasting Arizona’s statehood.
  7. The point is, just because you’re not in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to hang out alone in your room and mope. (Unless you’re an introvert, in which case, you’re likely not moping anyway, thanks to a really good book or a bloated netflix cue) I’m sure you know lots of single friends. In which case, why not band together for the evening and play Apples to Apples, Cards against Humanity, or Uno? (Not Monopoly. Monopoly causes families to break apart.) The point is, something fun, creative, and perhaps just a wee bit dark, to take your mind off of things. Or you could all go out together and catch a movie, or go bowling, or visit an art gallery. Have a night with Rifftrax, if you liked Mystery Science Theater 3000, back in the day.
  8. Remember that it’s not the end of the world. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you’re the only one. I’m single too, after all. Solidarity. Yeah, society right now is making you think that being single is horrible, but there are MANY fruits to living a single life. Read http://orthogals.com/2013/08/26/the-blessings-of-singlehood/ for some examples. (If you’ve read it before, it never hurts to read it again.)
  9. In the narrative of Lord of the RingsFebruary 14th was when Frodo and Sam looked into the Mirror of Galadriel, and when Gandalf returns to life, after his defeat of the Balrog. Celebrate by watching Fellowship of the Ring. Watch the rest of the movies over the course of the following weekend. Make yourself an Ent-draught while you watch: (recipe found here: http://www.foodthroughthepages.com/2012/12/18/ent-draught-the-lord-of-the-rings/) Or, better yet, if you’ve been planning on reading the series but haven’t gotten around to it, why not choose the 14th to get started?
  10. Take a you-day. Do something that you’ve wanted to do for a while. Just for yourself. Play Skyrim or Mass Effect all day. Go hiking. Learn how to ski. Write poetry. Soak. Read a book (or several). Cook something for yourself, or even simply order a pizza and veg out.
  11. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen!  Or something else, for that matter.  Help the less fortunate!  Surely there’s something you’d like to do for the less fortunate in your community that you haven’t made time to do previously?  Practice that most Christian of loves–Agape.  Besides, who needs Eros, anyway?  Remember, St. Valentine didn’t. He was a celebate martyr.
  12. The point is, you don’t need to celebrate. And there’s plenty of other things that you can do to take your mind off this most annoying hallmark holiday that’s taking place on the wrong day, anyway.