It’s that time again – hearts, flowers, candy, cupid and enough lovey dovey stuff in your face to make you sick – yep, it’s Valentine’s Day. This is a holiday that can definitely bring up a lot of emotion for people, generally depending on their romantic relationship or, lack thereof. For many it is filled with high expectations – mainly from what we see in the media. Like, if there was one day out of the year for your partner to muster up all of the romance they can possibly produce, this is definitely the day to do it. And if they can’t? Well, then perhaps they failed at living up to the intense expectations that this holiday often portrays.
What if you are single? I won’t lie, in years past it has been slightly depressing because for the month leading up to this holiday and the day of, love and romance in your face everywhere you turn can remind you that you don’t have that special someone to cuddle up to and act like a total weirdo with… I feel that I never felt more alone than on the day when all of the coupled friends are busy celebrating their love for each other.
Where Did This Holiday Even Come From?
Like many Hallmark holidays, the story of how Valentine’s Day came to be is a strange one. According to NPR.com,
“From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile. The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.
Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women.” That was likely confused with St. Valentine’s Day at some point, in part because they sound alike.”
I told you, it was strange. But, how did this holiday become one that is celebrated almost religiously in so many Western cultures around the world? The works of Shakespeare and Chaucer romanticized Valentine’s Day, and it started to gain popularity in Britain and the rest of Europe, eventually making its way to the New World. With the industrial revolution in the 19th century came factory made cards. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass producing these cards and promoting this holiday and ever since, February 14th has never seen so much action.
Valentine’s Day, Today
Today, Valentine’s Day is a corporate money making machine, research provided by IBIS World says that sales on this day reached $ 17.6 billion last year, and sales for this year are expected to total $ 18.6 billion – cray.
So, Why Buy Into What We Know Is Just A Money Making Marketing Ploy?
As I’ve shared before, and you might remember from my previous articles my friends often say, “Alanna Ruins Everything” because I’m often full of facts that can take the fun out of things, but I strongly believe knowledge is power and I will not be silenced! When we have awareness of why we do the things we do and why things are a certain way we become empowered to then make our own decisions as to whether or not we want to participate in certain aspects of society. Believe it or not, we do have a choice, but without the awareness, we wouldn’t know any better. So! You like Valentine’s day? Think it’s fun? Like any excuse to show your love, dress up, go on a date or do something special with your significant other? Go for it! If you recognize that it is just a money making scheme, then you can choose to do with it as you wish.
I guess I will state the obvious here and say that we don’t need a special day of the year to show our love, and that things like presents really aren’t needed to show our love. This is a materialistic idea of love and unconditional love means loving no matter what, without expectation and regardless of how much romance your partner could muster up. Of course, these things are nice from time to time and in no way am I suggesting that we don’t show our love in this way, but it is important to observe why we do the things we do. Are we doing it out of obligation or because we genuinely want to?
Related CE Article: 5 Phrases More Important Than I love You
Single? Be Your Own Valentine
A couple of years ago I wrote an article, “Single This Valentine’s Day? Be Your Own Damn Valentine.” It was about the importance of loving ourselves first and foremost and how important it is to give yourself your love care and attention. I feel this is just as important today. This year, I am in a relationship after 3 years of being single, and guess what? We are going out for dinner, just for the fun of it. We are traveling and with each other daily so we basically just thought, meh, why not?
No matter what you decide to do – or not do – this Valentine’s Day, just remember to choose love, everyday.