It isn’t a public holiday, nor should it be. At least, not in my culture, the American culture.
I made an honest mistake about the day after my wife, Josie, and I were married way back in 1985. I brought her flowers. She threw them in the kitchen garbage can. Josie doesn’t like flowers. She likes things she can eat. I should have brought her chocolates. Since then, the only thing we do is say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to each other.
My younger son, Jon, can never remember special occasions. I think the only occasions he can remember are his birthday, his wife’s birthday, their wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas (he may remember my birthday because it’s less than two weeks after his own, but I won’t count on it). His wife, Cathy, has to remind him on every other special occasion. I heard her remind him this morning.
Jon bought Cathy chocolates and flowers last year. He’s in an Army NCO Academy this year, so he hasn’t had time to do anything this time around (and I think it’s time to abandon that habit after four years of marriage anyway).
I don’t know what my older son, Joe, and his wife, Diann, do on Valentine’s Day. Or what they did in the past. Out of sight, out of mind, I like to say. I’ve only been around them during the occasion two or three times since they’ve been married and I didn’t notice anything special. Or it could be just a simple case of CRS (can’t remember sh*t) disease on my part.
I don’t know if it’s still a thing. When I was in elementary school, more than one year of it that I can remember, I had to bring Valentine’s Day cards to school to give to other students in my class. Sure, I knew what it was all about, but I obviously didn’t understand all of it. No prepubescent (or younger) child should. I certainly didn’t want anyone in my classes to “be my valentine”. By the time I did, I was already well past the beginning of puberty.
I sincerely hope it isn’t practiced anywhere today. Children don’t need to be taught romance. They can quite easily discover that on their own. Parents don’t need to buy cards to boost sales of them for any specific occasion. They have more important things to spend their money on.
The Wikipedia page on the subject has a lot to say about it. I’ll condense it into something simpler than all that nonsense by quoting relevant text. The original meaning:
It originated as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus and is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
The modern meaning:
The day became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the notions of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).
Need I say more?