Art by Madeline Duvall
Valentine’s Day is traditionally considered an opportunity to show love to a romantic partner, but lately, the holiday has garnered some complaints. Single people feel overwhelmed by the expressions of romantic love, and people in relationships feel a societal pressure to do something significant for their partner.
However, Valentine’s Day is more than just candy hearts and ice cream-fueled pity parties — it is a holiday with historical significance that reminds us to look to and appreciate the love in life.
Although negative views of Valentine’s Day have become the norm, the holiday is a good-at-heart, harmless opportunity to remember the love (and sweets) that make life so special, and for that reason is more than worthy of celebration. Through gaining a new perspective on the holiday, people can find a way to rekindle their love for Valentine’s.
The first step to developing this new perspective is to take a look at the fascinating history of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day has been celebrated since the 5th century and was created both to honor St. Valentine, a priest who was executed after secretly performing marriage ceremonies for couples in Rome in 270 C.E. and to Christianize the pagan holiday Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility. The legend of St. Valentine is one of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of danger, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate a legacy like that?
The second step in beginning to like Valentine’s Day is to disassociate Valentine’s Day exclusively with romance and instead to begin to understand it as a day to show appreciation for others.
Remember back in elementary school days when everyone was required to make Valentine cards for the whole class? That tradition may have seemed like a drag, but it ultimately teaches kids to set aside just a little of their time to show their appreciation for the people around them. The hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” even made the tradition a part of their show in the episode “Galentine’s Day,” in which the main character hosts a brunch for all of her friends and gives each of them personalized gifts to show her love and genuine appreciation for them.
The third and final step to developing a new perspective on Valentine’s Day is to fully embrace the food, decorations and music that make the holiday special. The pink, red and heart-shaped decorations of Valentine’s Day are cheerful and bright, and the flowers and chocolates associated with the holiday are always made to look just as good as they taste. Classic love songs that celebrate emotional intimacy and the joy of love speak to the deeper meaning behind the holiday. If you feel sad because you don’t have a significant other to shower these gifts on, you can instead give yourself a little treat. A little self-love is to be celebrated on Valentine’s Day!
The commercialization of Valentine’s Day can feel overwhelming and cheesy, but at its heart, Valentine’s Day is an open invitation to look around and appreciate the love experienced every day — be it romantic love, platonic love, paternal love or self love. So this February, go ahead a give the day a go!
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