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Question for the culture: Valentine's Day edition

February 8, 2022

Every year on Feb. 14, Americans celebrate by sending cards or love letters, writing poems, giving gifts such as chocolate or flowers, and sitting down for a meal at a nice restaurant. Many people see Valentine’s Day as an occasion to spend money and offer expensive gifts to their significant other. Have we lost the true meaning of Valentine’s Day? 

Feb. 14 is often marketed as a day for couples. Corporations manufacture products sold in heart shapes with pink and red colors and cute messages. Despite one’s own beliefs, consumers will often purchase the items regardless of their personal views on Valentine’s Day.  This holiday should be about love for all things regardless of relationship status and money that you are willing to spend. 

So where did the idea of Valentine’s Day come from? In the year A.D. 496, the true meaning of Valentine’s Day was violence, blood and sacrifice in the name of love. The celebration began in third-century Rome when the Catholic church held the power. The Romans would celebrate a yearly festival called Lupercalia from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15. The festival included the sacrifice of a goat and a dog. They practiced the whipping of women with animal intestines with the belief that it would increase their fertility. They included a matchmaking lottery where young men would choose a woman’s name out of a jar to spend the festival with. But the name Valentine’s Day comes from the execution of two men. Both of these men were named Valentine. They were executed on Feb. 14 for marrying couples against the emperor’s wish. 

In the last 1,525 years since Valentine’s Day has started, it has taken a turn for the worst. In the year 2022, thousands of dollars will be wasted on flowers, dozens of roses, jewelry, earrings, necklaces, rings and anything sparkly that will make you happy for the next 24 hours of your life. Maybe it is time that we find a way to honor relationships that doesn’t rely on buying stuff. 

This is not to say the original Valentine’s Day is better than how we celebrate today, but maybe somewhere in the middle there is a beautiful way to celebrate. Ignoring societal pressure is a good place to start. Showing you love and care about yourself, friends and family in other ways besides giving in to large corporations’ advertisements is a great way to celebrate. Spend Valentine’s Day this year showing gratitude for where you are now, who you are with, regardless of relationship status.

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