This past long weekend, we had lots to celebrate. There was the day of love of Saint Valentine, the provincial holiday of Family Day, and the end of a state of emergency pandemic shut down.
The details when it comes to Saint Valentine are sketchy. The stories are varied but one story states that 3rd Century Emperor Claudius II had banned marriages, believing married men made bad soldiers. A priest, Saint Valentine, is thought to have felt this was an unfair notion and arranged marriages in secret. When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and given a death sentence. He fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and on the day he was taken to be killed, on February 14, he sent her a love letter signed “from your Valentine.”
Today, we celebrate it as a day of love not only in romantic partnerships but with family and those we love as well.
Family Day is observed in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick on the third Monday of February. In British Columbia, Family Day falls on the second Monday of February. This holiday celebrates the importance of families and family life to people and their communities.
First held in Alberta in 1990, Family Day was proposed by the province’s former premier, Don Getty. It is believed that Getty was motivated to establish an occasion to counteract what he saw as the erosion of family values in Canadian society.
Family Day is supposed to reflect the values of family and home that were important to the pioneers who founded Alberta, and to give workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families. It was introduced in Saskatchewan in 2007 and in Ontario in 2008. British Columbia observed Family Day as a statutory holiday for the first time in 2013, and New Brunswick in 2018.
Holidays to celebrate families are also held in other places around the globe. In the Australian Capital Territory, the first Tuesday of November is known as Family and Community Day. In South Africa, the day after Easter Sunday is Family Day.
It is also the Chinese New Year and an opportunity to examine what new core values and lessons we have learned over the past year and what it is we wish to intend, moving mindfully forward. Traditionally this holiday is seven days long and celebrated by cleaning the homes, feasting and connecting with family and loved ones.
As we have spent this last year in a social distancing pandemic haze, limited external mingling, and as we now leave the current lockdown that has been in place since Dec. 26, this week is a breath of fresh, cold winter air.
It is also a reminder of what we should be mindfully cultivating, not just on said dates but throughout the year.
Spending quality time together, learning to communicate effectively with one and another, embracing more time in nature, connecting and focusing on what is truly important. We have learned to be respectful of each other, including strangers. We have been made to value the foundations of our lives which is love, family and the connections we have. Celebrate this appreciatively and mindfully hold space for this as we move forward now and ongoing.