By Gabbi Traub
I have a very complicated relationship with modern-day Valentine’s Day. On the one hand, I think it’s beautiful to designate one day to celebrate your loved ones. I grew up “celebrating” Valentine’s Day with my parents and family. However, as I got older, it became (or perhaps I was just starting to become more aware of) this insanely over-commercialized romantic holiday where you were required to shower your significant other (if you happen to have one) with gifts, activities, and a crowded overpriced dinner with 200 of your closest friends.
The origins of Valentine’s Day fascinates me. Like any now over-commercialized Hallmark holiday – it has pagan origins and is based on a Roman tradition of men getting drunk at 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 women welcomed it because it was thought to bring fertility. Later in history, it became about honoring a saint in the Catholic tradition. In this case- Saint Valentine. No one can agree who was the actual Valentine. According to the History Channel, it was (probably) one of three men. All of whom were executed by the Emperor for various crimes including performing secret marriages or helping Catholic prisoners escape Roman torture. Super romantic.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of a modern-day Valentine’s day. Maybe I’ve never understood the need to shower your significant other with gifts and flowers and candy and spend exorbitant amounts of money on a mediocre 3-course prix-fixe meal, especially when one could do this any other time of the year or even spread it out over the course of the year – for significantly less money. Why do we feel the need to shower each other only once a year?
Perhaps that’s my naivité, perhaps it’s how I grew up, and perhaps it’s the fact that I was single for the majority of my life and was (still am?) bitter about it only being marketed to couples. I certainly celebrated many “singles awareness days”, or “SAD” (pun unfortunately intended). Perhaps it’s all three. Who knows. Regardless – I’ve spoken about my feelings before and been met with overt frustration. How could I not want to be showered with gifts and told I’m loved? How could I not want to celebrate love? And while I certainly understand the appeal of having one designated day a year to vomit up as much “love” as we can muster, why not expect that always? Why does it have to be one day and one day only?
Now I’m not saying that one should expect to give/receive flowers, gifts, and candy (or your gift of choice) every day of the year. That’s a bit much. But why can’t we celebrate love in our own way, every day? Why does it have to be romantic love? Why can’t it be platonic, familial, or god forbid, self-love?
All I’m saying is – I don’t appreciate over-commercialized Hallmark stamped proof of love being shoved down my throat every year. It (in my humble opinion) has no other purpose than for us to feel guilted into buying things and professing our love in a way that could be uncomfortable, for no other reason than it’s what we’re told to do.
Now, if you love taking one day a year to just go nuts for your loved ones, by all means, go for it. And one perk of this crazy holiday? Severely discounted heart-shaped candy at every major store the following day. Honestly, I’m all about that life. Just some food for thought.