It’s that time of year again. For some, its the most dreaded holiday of all; for others, it is highly anticipated and extensively planned for. With Valentines Day comes many things: roses, maybe some self-loathing, candy and perhaps some sadness. Why is Valentine’s day a national holiday? Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. This holiday, that many never highlight the history of, has been vastly exploited by card companies to make grandiose sums of money. Is it truly beneficial?
I am a supporter of gift giving and displaying love, but having a holiday with the sole purpose of doing so has potentially malicious implications. I do not like the idea of millions of Americans not in a romantic relationship feeling ostracized and lonely once a year. If there was a way to include all types of love, perhaps between friends or family, and not just putting romantic love on a pedestal, there would be a lot less sadness and Eeyore-style moping on this day.
Valentine’s Day also promotes the idea of materialism in relationships. Money shouldn’t buy happiness, but, buy this fluffy heart-eyed teddy bear for your significant other and they will feel more happy and loved. There should be perpetual and unfettered love in a healthy relationship, without a feeling of obligation when it comes to expressing that. It is lovely to buy gifts on Valentine’s Day, but don’t feel pressured to do so simply because its February 14th. When I hear buzzing chatter about Valentine’s Day plans, I hear undertones of competition between couples– who gets taken to the nicest place, who was given the most thoughtful gift– and I am perturbed by it. If anything, Valentines Day should be a holiday in which you appreciate the people you have in your life, and all the things they do for you year-round; it should not be a vehicle in which to prove to your friend or your school that your relationship is healthier or more successful than everyone else’s. You should not have to re-evaluate your relationship if your Valentine’s Day plans are deemed unfit by others. However you spend your day, if it is with the person or people that you love, it should be a perfect day, regardless of the price tag attached to it.
On Valentine’s Day you should reflect on the love you have in your life, whether it be romantic or platonic, and treasure it. Every person should be able to find happiness this Wednesday, regardless of your relationship status, because there are people that love you unconditionally, even if they aren’t buying you heart shaped chocolates.