Feb 4, 2012

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by Anne Rockwell

Pictures by Lizzy Rockwell

Published by HarperCollins

I love most Japanese cultural celebrations, but I hate Valentine's Day with a passion. I have so many great memories of making Valentine's cards and passing them out to all my classmates, and receiving Valentine's cards in a homemade heart-shaped post box at my desk. My mom always made chocolate fondue on Valentine's Day too.

The fondue I can do in Japan, but the cards don't really work. See, Valentine's Day is about obligation and sexism.

Girls give chocolate to boys on Valentine's Day, which really really bothers me. This isn't just a school thing either, it happens in homes and companies all over the country. Technically boys give back to the girls a month later on White Day in March but that doesn't always happen, and even if it does it's still sexist! It's not just me who feels uncomfortable, but we all keep doing it anyway.

So it's important to me to teach my kids about what the Canadian version of Valentine's Day is. I want them to know it's about giving cards to everyone in your class, even if you don't really like them. I want them to know how to make a paper postbox. I want them to both be excited to give and receive on Valentine's Day, not be boxed into one side or the other due to their gender.

This book does a pretty good job of showing kids making different kinds of Valentine's cards. It also introduces US money and stamps, which my kids are both interested in. Each child also shares their memories of friendship with their friend who has moved to another country, and it's nice to see that V-Day for kids is about friendship.

However, the fact that their friend is from Japan kind of ruined it for me. There was no mention of Japanese Valentine's Day customs, just an American-style letter from Michiko. If there wasn't going to be any mention of the Japanese practice, why not have the friend be from a different state, or from Canada, where the customs are the same?

Hopefully I can find another book on Valentine's Day to introduce my customs to my kids.

What do you do for Valentine's Day?

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