Every day around Valentine’s Day, there is a massive backlash against the so-called “Hallmark Holiday.” That’s all well and good if all you want to do is piss and moan, but if you really want to put paid to Valentine’s Day, what you need is an alternative. That way, people who like Valentine’s Day can celebrate Valentine’s Day, and people who don’t will have an outlet for their towering rage.

May I suggest Valerian’s Day?

No one is quite sure at what time in the year 260AD the Roman emperor Valerian I’s army was annihilated by the Persians at the Battle of Edessa. So if we were to say that it happened to be on February 14, who’s to say otherwise? And what better antidote to the lovey-dovey, for those who wish for one, than blood and murder and death?

On Valerian’s Day, the Persians defeated Valerian I in battle, but that wasn’t the end of it. No, the emperor was forced to serve as a human footstool to the Persian king whenever the latter mounted his horse. When he had the audacity to propose buying his freedom with a random of treasure, the Persians had him killed by pouring molten gold down his gullet. Then, not satisfied, they skinned his body and stuffed the skin with straw and manure. It was only after a later Roman campaign ended in victory that the Persians consented to part with their taxidermy so the emperor could be cremated and buried.

The best part? Emperor Valerian I, along with his successors Gallienus, Valerian II, and Claudius II (it was a rough time for Rome in terms of reign length) were major instigators of the persecution that saw St. Valentine himself martyred in 269AD. That’s right: in addition to getting himself humiliated and killed with a brutality reminiscent of Mortal Kombat, Valerian I basically killed St. Valentine.

So, if you are one of those anti-Valentine grouches, a candy heart curmudgeon, or simply sick of the sickly-sweet…Valerian’s Day has you covered. Go forth and celebrate utter defeat, humiliation, rder, brutality, persecution, and killing St. Valentine. Exchange cards that look like they were made from the living skin of a 60-year-old man. Chug Goldschl├Ąger. Stuff yourself silly. Smell like manure. Persecute and oppress those who differ with you. And, most importantly, do it with the simpering and wheedling affect of someone who feels denied what they were entitled and greivously mistreated.

That’s the true spirit of Valerian’s Day, my friends.

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Mahjong Pizza has a long tradition of allowing a certain amount of employee innovation. It was hard to forget how the business had been founded on the back of Chad Martinez’s innovations while working at a Hopewell, Michigan Pizza House even among the esoteric college kids who usually donned the red-white-green uniforms. If Martinez could transform the pizza delivery business through his amateur time and motion studies, anybody could.

As such, Anna Grimaldi had to sit through a monthly “innovation meeting.” It meant an extra half-hour on the clock for most people, but the innovations therein tended to be on the prosaic side (multiple magnetic “shark fins” for foggy days, offering a five-pack of breadstick dipping sauces for a reduced fee). Anna’s ideas tended to run afoul of the legal department, which 86’d her idea of the cook writing a personal message on the box of each Mahjong pie, as well as her co-workers, who hadn’t been enthusiastic about writing personalized messages in the first place.

At the February “innovation meeting,” she had another idea: “The florist next door is always throwing out flowers. Why not grab a bunch of them for a few pennies and keep them on the counter for Valentine’s Day? Then everyone who comes in for carry-out can get a flower. Make them feel loved or something.”

“I think we should let people our customers are seeing give them the flowers,” her manager said.

“Come on now,” Anna replied. “Do you think anyone who’s getting carryout pizza on Valentine’s Day is seeing anybody?”

The flowers were out in a crystal vase by 8:02 AM February 14.

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