Has anyone else noticed how festive this week is? Fat Tuesday, the State of the Union address, Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day weekend…
You’d think we’d all have the week off from work and school, using the time to alternately cram beignets and Sweethearts into our mouths while we wear Uncle Sam hats and flip between CSPAN and “The 700 Club.”
But we’re not. In fact, in a week packed with festivities, it seems like most people are primarily focused on just one: the marquee event of Valentine’s Day. Pinterest walls are crammed with heart-themed crafts; card and candy aisles are stocked in pink and red; lingerie departments are hosting fire sales; fancy restaurants are doubling their chocolate orders.
And that made me wonder, why? What makes one holiday more special, enduring and relevant to the masses than another holiday? And I think it really comes down to rituals.
When you look at all of the events this week, Valentine’s Day outpaces the others, by far, in observed traditions. Sure, Fat Tuesday has the King Cake, and President’s Day has its … um, mattress sales, I guess? But Valentine’s Day has chocolates, cards, jewelry, fancy dinners, Cupid, its own cheeseball movie.
What’s more, these are traditions everyone can observe. You don’t have to be drinking age, or a D.C. politico, or a member of a particular religion to recognize this holiday. And that means we grow up celebrating it, which probably makes us more likely to keep celebrating it as we grow older. It’s bred into us.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could ritualize the purchase of life insurance — or all personal financial planning for that matter? If purchasing life insurance were a set tradition — observed from childhood, nostalgically fun and tied to a particular date or milestone — no one would delay shopping for it or go for decades without re-evaluating appropriate coverage levels.