For my non-Jewish friends and family, it makes sense that I don't celebrate Xmas or Easter. But when it comes to holidays such as Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, or the one with hearts and flowers just around the corner, they get confused. "It's just _____," I hear a lot.
Forget for a moment that all of these have Catholic origins, because it's not what most people are thinking of when they dress up, drink green beer, or hand out valentines. Before Judaism, I went along with it all like everyone else. I pretty much lived for Halloween. But a funny thing happened on the way to becoming a Jew. As I began taking on holidays that were rich with tradition and meaning, the ones that have become so secularized and commercialized suddenly seemed less appealing. I don't refuse to acknowledge non-Jewish holidays out of stubbornness; I just don't care to anymore.
Still, there's no denying that V-Day is all about love, and, as my loved ones love to point out, isn't that Jewish? Well, yes and no. Judaism has nothing against love and romance, and neither do I, for that matter. In fact, just to quell any cynics, there is indeed someone special in my life right now, and it reinforces my stance more than ever. I don't want to go through any cliched motions with him—who made these rules? And I certainly don't want any of my single friends to feel for one minute like less than the beautiful, kind, and wonderful people that they are. So let's stop trying to cram love into a single day, or to relegate it to specific colors or gestures. The love that I know, the kind that Judaism espouses, is an ongoing celebration expressed in a multitude of ways. Just take a cue from G-d:
"I love you with an everlasting love, therefore I continue my lovingkindness to you." - Jeremiah 31:2