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New Zealand plays the PALentine's Day card

New Zealand plays the PALentine's Day card

New Zealand plays the PALentine's Day card

4 February 2021

Rosy Keane, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory Mission Director for Women’s Ministries, with some of the PALentine’s Day cards they have produced.

By Darryl Whitecross

While 14 February has traditionally been the day each year when people specifically express their romantic love to their ‘valentine’, The Salvation Army in New Zealand has shifted the focus from affection to the bond that links people in friendship, mateship or acquaintance.

Instead of embracing the traditional concept of Valentine’s Day [or St Valentine’s Day], the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa (NZFTS) Territory is tapping into the modern alternative to the traditional couple-centred event – PALentine’s Day [which is most often commemorated on 13 February].

The territory is suggesting people focus more on the people they don’t know that well and to whom they would express more platonic feelings – the people you shake hands with rather than hug; the people you hang out with rather than date; the people you are happy to be with rather than making them happy.

The artwork for the NZTFS Territory PALentine’s Day cards is by Salvationist Crystal Anniss from Upper Hutt Corps.

Red hearts, flowers and chocolates are synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but the territory hasn’t ditched the trimmings altogether for PALentine’s Day. Sending cards still plays a significant part in what their refocus is all about.

Rosy Keane, the NZFTS Territory’s Mission Director for Women’s Ministries, said she came up with introducing the idea for her territory back in 2018 and it has run annually since then.

Rosy, who attends Upper Hutt Corps on New Zealand’s North Island, said she warmed to the idea because it stemmed from her passion to see a community that was safer and more inclusive for women – online and in-person.

She said she saw in her corps each Sunday an opportunity to celebrate friendships, “which I see as the backbone of our Christian life”.

“I was thinking about how there is a real need for events that refocus on the hauora [te reo word for ‘wellness, whole being wellness’] of a person rather than just their marital, relationship or parenthood status,” Rosy said. “I wanted to shift the focus to a Biblical sense of wholeness and accomplishment – one where the way we serve one another and love one another defines us.

“I asked a young Salvationist friend of mine to come up with some images that spoke to her about friendship or ‘pals’. I made these designs into cards and postcards to be printed and used within whatever setting people like.

We are passionate about celebrating one another and, while Valentine’s Day is an awesome way to awhi [affirm] romantic relationships, we want to make it a time to tautoko [back up, reinforce and support] the friendships that bless us, too.”

The cards carry the message inside: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16). PALentine’s Day is a way to celebrate the friendships in our lives that make us richer and more complete. Happy PALentine’s Day. You make life better.”

“I love that Jesus made a big deal out of building community with everyday people,” Rosy said. “Jesus didn’t have a valentine. Jesus was single and Jesus was complete because he was part of the community of God and the body of believers.

“I feel very strongly and hopeful that The Salvation Army can lead the way in how we reimagine community and the things we choose to celebrate together. My hope is that people use these cards online and in-person to remember those people who have helped shape them and bless their lives as they get to know Christ better.”

The cards are free to download and “distribute willy-nilly to anyone and everyone who has been a good pal to you over the years”, according to Rosy.

Rosy said the additional challenge was to give or send one of the cards to someone you don’t know as well with a message of encouragement in it. She said it was hoped that many new friendships would begin.

To download a card follow this link: https://women.salvationarmy.org.nz/PALentinesDay

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