As I write we are coming to the end of our first Valentine’s Day celebration in the United States, and celebrate we have. To be honest it is very hard not to celebrate Valentine’s Day here, surrounded as we are by so many references to it.
All the advertising we have seen of late has been saturated with hearts, love, flowers and cupids; many of the homes in our neighbourhood have been flying Valentine themed flags; a whole section of Target was dubbed Valentopia and filled with Valentines paraphenalia; popular candy brands released special edition Valentines candy – pink and red m and m’s, raspberry flavoured Hershey kisses; even our supermarket was overflowing with heart balloons, flower displays, enormous boxes of chocolates and valentine making kits.
Whilst Valentine’s Day doesn’t pass by unnoticed in New Zealand, it is very much taken to a whole new level here. One of the biggest differences is the way children here really get in on the celebrations. When I was teaching I never once had my class take part in any Valentine themed activities and there was never any exchanging of Valentines. I have been out of New Zealand classrooms for some time now so things may be changing, but in American classrooms Valentine’s Day is a big deal. Both Olive and Edie had a day of treats, Valentine activities and of course the big Valentine exchange.
I helped out at Olive’s class Valentine party in the afternoon. The children played heart bingo, listened to a traditional Valentine’s folktale and shared their Valentines with each other. They were also asked to tell the class something that they loved or really liked. There were many answers along the lines of “my bike”, “angry birds” and “my nintendo DS”, but when it came to Olive, without pausing she said, “my sister”. Had to blink a few tears away after that!
And so our first American Valentine’s Day was both lovely and full of love, and even though Richard wasn’t with us in body, he was very much with us in our hearts. I’ll leave you with a quick peek at the gift I bought for him. A few lines from the beautiful poem by American poet E.E.Cummings, which my mother read at our wedding…
PS quick quilt update if you are interested over at my How to make an American Quilt page.