Our Discussions

Valentine's Day

1 (a madar)
salaam doustan,
I need your help now that valentines day is coming. Every year my children (still in preschool and kindergarten) get a set of cards and candies, etc. from their friends and some of their teachers. Unfortunately, I fail to give my children anything for their friends because I simply forget! because I don't get the concept yet, and because I don't care for this day. I guess we (my mate and I) think that this is something that Hallmark and other business do for marketing their products.
I am just curious what you as Iranian families do for your children's friends? (I assume that you don't do anything for your children, do you?) This is mainly because I have started feeling a bit guilty for failing to do things that I could do, but I am still a bit confused on the (lower and upper) limits of the things that I as a parent should do for my child's socialization.
Please help as I am running out of time.
thanks in advance,

2 (a madar)
Our children are still too young to know But Ata & I agree with you & your husband Different people have different dates to celebrate I don't know once they go to school what will happen we shall see

3 (a madar)
i have a 4 year old (well, she'll be 4 next month) who goes to preschool. the school celebrates v-day with a bash. they send out reminders to all parents to dress the kids in white, pink, and red. and, to send gifts&cards for each of the other students in the class. of course, since other parents bring gifts for the teachers too, i do the same. what i do is buy these valentine m&m sticks that you can find in any grocery store around this time. then, i have my daughter sign her name on little cards and hang them from the m&m sticks. for the teachers, i buy small boxes of godiva chocolates especially wrapped for valentine. i agree that v-day is a hallmark thing. but, then again, so it mother's day ;-). my daughter spends a lot of time at school creating art work for her dad and i on this day. so, i return the favor by letting her buy something special for herself (chocolate, clothes, toys, each year is different). i take advantage of every excuse to show my kiddie how much i love her. i know buying things is not the way to show your love, but every once in a while it doesn't hurt :-).

4 (a madar)
I feel that some of these occasions have been enforced upon us, just like how Barbie dull has. We resisted for a long time buying a barbie dull for my daughter, but seeing other kids her age having collection of barbie was not understandable for her why she is the only "deprived one" "polotically correct one"!, at last we decided not having none was more damaging than having one, and now that she is almost eight, I am able to start logic with her and she is perfectly aware of my opinion of barbie dull and barbie culture! The same is with some of these dates, christmas, halloween, ... which have been enforced on us in spite of some of our beliefs, but if I have a choice to pick between christmas and valentine's day, or halloween and valentine's day, I will choose valentine's to promote LOVE. Even at pre-school age, they have activities to introduce these cultural (is it really about american culture?) to our children and we want to be part of it. It may be a passivistic approach, but we have decided to prevent situations that single out our children as much as possible at this age (8 and 4), and hope that when we can logic with them, we will be able to present our values. We buy valentine's gifts (chocolate) for both our children's teachers, and they both take valentine's cards to their friends at school and we know that Hallmark and other businesses get a lot out of it as they do during other holidays and special occasions.
"Ba Ehteram Faravan"

5 (a pedar)
Hello Folks,
Can't help ignoring this feeling of being in some kind of "cold war" with this country's culture after reading some of the e-mails. No doubt, some of the occasions have been over-commercialized, but to dismissed and attribute all of it, to the conspiracy of Dept.stores seems to me a very comfortable excuse to declare "Honar Nazde Iranian hast 'o bass"("only Iranian knows art"? sorry my translation is weird!)
Why can't we acknowledge and celebrate whatever brings love and happiness and ignore it's national origin? What will we gain by declaring a country/culture petent?
This morning when my little daughter and I arrived at her Pre-school (late as usual)I saw all the kids were sitting at the tables and having Valentine's cup cakes and cookies.
I found it very enjoyable for all the kids. Now, what's wrong with THIS? May I ask why we've always looking at half empty-glass? Of course glass's content is important, In reality we're trying to promote our culture in every opportunity that we get our hands on, but deliberately trying to avoid, dismiss,... the others!
Finally, It's each individual choices. Happy Valentine!!
6 (a mother)
Hi all - One of the traits I love most about my Persian family is their willingness to celebrate ANYTHING, within reason, of course. If Christmas sounds like fun, let's do it. If Valentine's Day is fun, let's do it. Any excuse for a party. Little kids really enjoy a loveable holiday like Valentines Day and it is a good excuse for letting them feel love. I really hate commercialization by Hallmark but little kids don't look that far and like I say - Any excuse for fun is OK by them. One of the fabulous things about this country is, that with the number of cultures here, the kids could really celebrate someone's occasion almost every week and share each other's joy. I used to make finger jello heart-shaped cutouts for the kids' classrooms when my kids were little and I am still remembered as the "jello Mom." It's OK!
7 (a pedar)
I don't particularly see a harm in Valentine's Day and on the same token I do not have time to go out of my way for Valentine activities. For the last 3 years I have bought cards for my daughter and written a text and/or a poem and have mailed the card - which I received and will keep for her and give them to her when she grows up (I do that as part of a larger mailing campaign for when I am out of town I send her postcards). She may or may not say Happy Valentine's day to people and I would not push her either way. I am planning to explain it to her as follows (whenever she is old enough to grasp it):
- It is a day in the year same as many other days (mother's day, father's day, etc.) where certain concepts and ideas that we have to remember and cherish YEAR-ROUND are brought forth explicitly and we are reminded of such issues. A little Happy Valentine's drawing goes miles farther than commercial gifts. A simple hug may do the job. So my advice would be to remember and stick to the content and choose a subtle and low key form to deliver the content.
Signature (still Barbie free and hoping to stay that way :-)
8 (a madar)
I think the two issues regarding Valentine's day and Our Culture are very related to each other. Not wanting to celebrate Valentine and not being assertive enough are both cultural issues. I agree with a pedar (5 above) on having a cold war with this culture. I think being from a very close culture and not having diversity in our culture made us mostly more prejudice than this culture. In bottom of our hearts we still think "honar nazde Iranian ast va bas". What is wrong with kissing and hugging your kids and letting them know you care about them on Valentines day? We as Iranian parents do this a lot on our daily life, but don't forget we live here in a life in a fast lane and don't have time to do this as much we should. If one day is designated for letting others know you care about them, why not do it. The hell with Hallmark and other commercialized companies. If they make money off of love, it is much better than making money on selling tobacco and alcohol to our children, because we didn't have time to pay attention to what our children were doing when they were growing up. The bigger picture I see here is not being diversified enough. I admire Americans for being very diversified. They celebrate Chinese New year. The mayor of San Francisco participates in Chinese New year. Can you imagine our authorities participating in celebrating Afgahni or any other minorities celebrations? I am not saying we have to celebrate or participate in every single holiday. All I am saying is we have to accept what is good in both cultures and through away what is bad in both cultures. One good example of a bad culture is the same problem almost all of us have with our children, not being assertive enough. If we think we have the best culture then we need to put up with this and don't teach our children to stand up for their rights because if they do then they will be "gostakh". Specially if they are girls then they have no right On being assertive. Even in this culture if a woman is assertive they call her a name and if the man is assertive they say he is a go getter. All I am trying to say is to be open minded and try to analyze every situation and re act on what you think is right not what we have learned as Iranians.

9 (a madar)
I personally am in no" cold war" with any culture.I actually enjoy learning from other cultures. Although we don't put up a Christmas tree I get excited and share the joy of the season with others. Our children get presents. But I have to admit On valentines day I don't particularly feel more loved or show more love towards others. I think it would be more fun for the kids to make the cards rather than buy them. But as a pedar (#5 above) said it's an individual choice.
10 (a madar)
(regarding pedar #5 above) I could not say it any better. Very well said.
11 (a madar)
Dear madar #1,
Valentine's Day is such a silly holiday. I've lived in this country my whole life and I merely ignore it. It's too mushy and I don't like a holiday to dictate how I feel. As for the children: when my son was small, I would buy a box of Peanuts character Valentine Day Cards and have him write his name on one for each of his classmates (this was how he first learned to write his name). I didn't send gifts, candy, or anything else. Frankly, the kids come home with a bag-full of cards and candy and they rarely check to see who has given them what. Now that my son is a little older, the teachers assign them each a "secret pal" to which they give a small gift. I guess there's no way getting around Valentine's Day completely, what with the school's getting involved and all, but since I think it's mostly a merchandising holiday, I ignore it as much as possible. And, seeing how you feel, so should you.
Good luck,

12 (a madar)
I usually get some blank cards (index cards would do), some art supply or stickers, some individually wrapped candy and make it a family project to decorate the cards with drawings and stickers, write the name of children and staple the candies to the cards. It hardly ever costs more than $15. My son gets all happy and excited about it for a few days that we are doing the shopping together and decorating the cards and I think it's worthed. We have been doing this since he was 2.5 yrs old and it's now sort of our tradition. It's a happy one and I don't care where it comes from. About people making money off of it, I think it's fine too. I love Hallmark cards and don't mind paying for the good feelings that it can give me plus some artists make a living this way.
Happy Valentine's Day,
Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu.

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