Thursday, February 15, 2007

When is Valentine's Day again?

It was so weird to be here during Valentine's day, and even more strange to try to teach about it. Different from when I taught about Halloween, I now feel this extreme conflict between sharing American culture and feeling like I'm forcing American holidays that were created by consumerism. I guess it's because of my experience in December, when so many people were adamant about keeping Santa Clause out of the Czech Republic.
I have always loved Valentine's Day, especially because I've never had a boyfriend on Valentine's day, so it's always been about sharing as much kindness as I can with as many people that I meet during the day, instead of sharing love with just one person. On Valentine's day you can show love to people that would normally give you a strange look if you were extra nice to them. However, I wasn't quite sure about how to use this in the classroom. As you know, anytime you use the word love in a class room with kids over the age of 7, they giggle and make jokes. So, instead of talking about "love" and Saint Valentine, we talked about giving compliments and giving help to others. With the older kids we passed around a page with our name and wrote nice things about each other. With the younger kids we read Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" in Czech and English. AND STILL, some kids laughed at the idea of happiness coming from giving to others or saying nice things to each other.
Then one of the parents told me later, that her son really enjoyed the book, but he was afraid to show it because of the other kids. It made me think about how we, those who celebrate VDAY, are used to letting down our guard on Valentine's day. On this day we are used to being nice to people we don't like. I know kids everywhere are the same with hiding their feelings, but it seems to me, that giving valentines has always been a good opportunity to share the "Agape" type of love, without feeling it might be confused with the "Eros" type of love. Here in CZ, they don't show their emotions very much, let alone show the type of love that acts in the best interest of the other person, when many things in their society are about getting what they can for themselves. So, we'll keep talking about giving and being nice to others. Why should there be only one day out of the year to be show love to everyone? Really, everyday should be Valentine's day. So whenever you read this post, pretend like it's Valentine's day all over again, and see if it makes you act differently towards your neighbor. Post your comments, if you want.

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