This Valentine’s Day, start some traditions with your family that will make everyone feel loved and connected. Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a day for “courtly love,” but it’s also a day to remember and share our love for all our loved ones.
Learn About Valentine’s Day Celebrations
Valentine’s Day has become focused on romantic love to the point where it is now considered commercialized. Many children (and parents) may find this narrow view, which highlights the importance of finding a significant other and having a perfect relationship, to be disconcerting. When you learn about the history and meaning of Valentine’s Day, it can be comforting, especially during your teenage years.
Origin of Valentine’s Day
There is debate about the specifics of the origin of Valentine’s Day, but at least one Saint Valentine is believed to have existed. This picture book tells some of the commonly held beliefs about Saint Valentine and his life. “The Story of Valentine’s Day” by Clyde Robert Bulla is another excellent picture book. The book argues that Valentine’s Day may have originated from the Roman holiday of Lupercalia, which was later adopted by the Christian church. This book also has some easy crafts and a cookie recipe that are similar to traditions that have been around for a long time.
Although February 14th is Valentine’s Day in several countries, not every area celebrates it in the same way. In Japan, women make chocolate for their male friends and sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, but men return the chocolate with additional gifts a month later on “White Day.” In England, Jack Valentine brings small gifts and treats to children on Valentine’s Day. Throughout the world, different countries celebrate their own version of Valentine’s Day. However, the date of the holiday and its name vary from place to place. This Valentine’s Day, why not expand your horizons by researching a country of heritage or interest? You may find some customs that you like and want to adopt as your own!
Make sure to take the time to share your family’s love story with future generations. Tell your kids how you met your spouse or about the day of their birth. It’s a great way to share your story with them and let them get to know you better. When you take the time to share memories with your kids, you give them a sense of history and belonging. They also have the opportunity to create their own stories.
Give Love and Kindness
A great way to learn about showing love in action is “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. According to the author, five ways to express love are through words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Children should be taught to respect different ways of showing love, so that they can express love to the people who are most important to them.
If we plan ahead and are intentional, we can express love to our children using the languages they understand. Here are a few suggestions for how your family might express the five love languages on Valentine’s Day.
Words of Affirmation
To show your loved ones how much you care on Valentine’s Day, tell them “Happy Valentine’s Day” and “I love you.” Just a few simple words can mean a lot to someone whose primary love language is words of affirmation. If you want to add another level to the project, cut out small heart shapes from white card stock, then write some of your favorite things about them on the heart in a white crayon. In order to discover what was written in white crayon, they colored over it with a magic marker.
This Valentine’s Day, try to spend some time together. What does your family love to do together? Do you love spending time together as a family, watching movies and visiting the park? Some other great ideas are reading aloud, cooking a meal together, or playing board games.
One family we are friends with have an annual Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt. Small gifts and hand-crafted messages can seem more exciting when there is an activity or tradition around them. Family traditions are important because they help to create a shared experience, build memories, and provide a way to connect with previous generations. Traditions can help kids feel like they belong to a community, which can protect them from commercialism and negative current culture norms.
Acts of Service
Maybe your family can cook something special for Valentine’s Day every year. When my kids were small, we had a heart-shaped cookie cutter that I would use to cut out pizza dough that I would spread with tomato sauce and cheese, and bake. They are grown now, but still love the memories of their ‘heart pizzas’.
3 Ways to Make Breakfast a Little Special
- 1. Heart Shaped Egg in Toast
- Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to create a heart shape in a piece of toast.
- Brown the toast and the heart cut out for one minute in a buttered pan.
- Flip both pieces of bread.
- Crack an egg into the heart-shaped hole in the bread and cook as desired.
- 2. Heart Shaped Pancakes
- Butter or oil a frying pan and the inside of a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
- Keep the heat on high approximately one minute and then reduce to medium heat.
- Ladle in the pancake batter and flip when bubbles appear.
- Remove the heart-shaped pancakes from the cookie cutter(s) and serve.
- 3. Heart Cinnamon Bread
- Roll a piece of aluminum foil into a snake-like shape and use it to form a heart.
- Place the heart shape on the bread and broil for a couple of minutes.
- Spread soft or melted butter on the toast and sprinkle on a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Cooking not your thing? If you have a child, you might want to do their chores for them, or help them do them, either before or after the holiday.
One of the best ways to show love and affection to our children is by giving them simple hugs. Fill Valentine’s Day with lots of hugs. A child who enjoys physical touch loves having their feet massaged, especially when there is lotion or a lavender-scented essential oil involved. Some activities that allow for physical touch are cuddling while reading a book, watching a movie, or bird watching by the window.
Give children the tools they need to express themselves through the different love languages. There are simple things that we as parents can do to help our kids express love to others on Valentine’s Day and all year round.
- Lead by example.
- Encourage them when they try (that burnt piece of toast with a heart on it can be eaten).
- Show appreciation for what they do, do not point out what they don’t do
- Provide ideas and support for gifts or ideas the kids want to pursue when possible (materials for cards, ingredients for culinary endeavors).
Beyond the Nuclear Family
One way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family is to show compassion for a neighbor or person in need. A full day of volunteering may not be possible for everyone, but small acts of kindness, like making extra dinner to share with an elderly neighbor, can make a big difference.
Accept Love and Kindness
More than just good manners, accepting love and acts of kindness from others is an act of self-love. When our children feel like they are worthy of the compliments and gifts we give them, it can lead to positive feelings. You can help your children develop strong friendships and family bonds by teaching them how to show appreciation for other people’s efforts. Being grateful to those who love you and show you kindness can help improve your own happiness.
Simple Ways to Help Kids Accept Love and Kindness
Let someone know you appreciate them
Express your gratitude to those who have made a difference in your life by making thank you cards or sending thank you messages, even if it’s just via social media. You can also include people who have given you gifts in the past, as well as people who you would like to just show appreciation for. You can give thank you notes to your co-op teacher, soccer coach, and an aunt who sent us gifts in the mail.
Create Gratitude Lists
Encourage your children to think about all the things and people they are grateful for this year by having them make a list of the top ten things and/or people. No, it doesn’t have to be limited to ten. Older kids can see how long they can make the list. Cutting out hearts and displaying them in your home with things your family is grateful for is a great way to be more creative.
Valentine’s Day is a great chance to spend time with and show our love to our families. Do whatever you want today, but remember to show your family how much you love them. One of the greatest messages we can carry to our children is “I love you!”