Valentines Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I understand the reasons people have for hating it, I went through many Valentines rejections when I was younger (including one time that I thought it would be a great idea to give my crush a card that I made in the Spanish class that we shared, in front of everyone, before the glue had even dried… that did not go over well.) Still, single or taken, I have always loved Valentines Day because of what it symbolizes: a day focused solely on reminding people that you care about them.
The history about the holiday is a bit confusing… no one can seem to agree on exactly why and how Valentine’s Day came to life.
We do know that Valentine’s Day has roots in a Pagan holiday called Lupercalia, which was widely celebrated on February 15th of each year into the fifth century A.D. Many historians believe that Christian leaders decided to adopt this holiday and convert it into a Christian holiday after it became clear that people were not going to stop celebrating it.
Thus, In 469 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 a day to honor St. Valentine… the only problem is there are actually three St. Valentine’s — one was a priest, one was a bishop, and we don’t know all that much about the third.
One popular Velentine’s legend says that a Roman emperor banned soldiers from marrying in the third century, but St. Valentine took issue with this. He became an advocate for soldiers and was executed as a result of his outspokenness. Another legend says St. Valentine was executed for his beliefs in Christianity and just before he died, he left a farewell note for a loved one and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
Regardless of the exact origins, Valentines day has become a day to celebrate love in its many forms and I, for one, think that is awesome! I understand that not everyone shares my feelings, so to help I’ve decided to provide a short list of ways to celebrate the holiday that have nothing to do with overpriced and overcrowded “romantic” dinner dates or generic flowers/candy/hallmark cards…
- Bring small candies to school and give them out to your friends and people you don’t know… look for the people who are having a crummy Valentines day and try to make it a little better by taking a moment to talk to them. Free chocolate is such a great icebreaker that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know each-other well! Who knows, you may start February 15th with a brand new friend or two.
- Gather up some friends and spend time crafting handmade Valentines to scatter in random public places for people to find and enjoy.
- Organize a secret-admirer Valentine swap (just like a Secret Santa) and spend the day dropping hints to your secret Valentine, while trying to figure out who your secret admirer is!
- Embrace the spirit of activism and spend some time on Valentine’s day advocating for Equal Marriage because shouldn’t we live in a world where EVERYONE is free to marry the person they love?
- Call up your parents, or your siblings, or that one person who was always there for you growing up and remind them of how much you appreciate them… who says Valentines day has to be all about romantic love?
- Buy yourself a Valentines gift because you love yourself and you’ve earned it!
Whatever you do just remember: Valentines day can be about all kinds of love. Its up to us to give the holiday real meaning, beyond what the media and our consumer culture tells us it should mean. I love Valentines Day because it lets me focus on the awesome relationships I have in my life EVERY day… what do you like about it?