Feeling the love for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t only for couples


Credit: Alice Kasdan ’24

The history of Valentine’s Day is, admittedly, quite dark. Usually traced back to Ancient Rome, the holiday finds its roots in Lupercalia, the festival of spring and fertility. During this festival, young women would be paired off by lottery to young men for the duration of the celebrations. The name, Valentines, derives from a priest, St. Valentine, who was martyred. It was not originally the red-and-pink Cupid-adorned holiday we know now, a popular argument against the day as a whole. However, because Valentine’s today would be unrecognizable to those Romans, it is important to consider the valid denunciations of Valentine’s Day. The commercialization of the holiday, as well as its focus on romantic relationships, are criticisms that often come up, but Valentine’s Day, in essence, is about love – of all different kinds. 

Valentine’s Day is often categorized as a commercial or “Hallmark” holiday, referring to the abundance of cards purchased for lovers young and old. While it is true that the holiday is the furthest from its history in comparison to the other holidays celebrated in the United States, all holidays are commercialized. There’s a card for everything from the Fourth of July to Halloween, both with their own respective histories, so why is it that only Valentine’s Day is met with this condemnation?

Perhaps it is less that the cards and gifts are purchased, and more who they’re purchased for. Many people often express frustration that the day is geared towards those currently in relationships or actively pursuing one, leaving those who don’t fall into either category out of the picture. This is a valid criticism, but if this rings true for you, look beyond the cheesy romantic messages inside a Papyrus card or the bouquets of roses interspersed with glittery hearts. Love does not only come in romantic form. 

Consider the holiday as a day to express your love to your friends, something often ignored in a culture focused on romantic love. The inspiration behind the phrase “Gal-entine’s,” Valentine’s Day isn’t inherently about love between partners, but rather about love alone. Take time to make a card or a treat for your friends and let them know you care. While they’re likely aware of that (or so I would hope), it’s nice to receive a memento of the sentiment occasionally, especially if it was something you put time and effort into. 

Or perhaps it’s time to express love and gratitude to yourself. Use the day to journal about things you like about yourself, or treat yourself to flowers and chocolates. In a world that’s constantly thinking about how we are regarded by other people, it is important to take time to consider our self-image, and how we might want to improve that. 

Valentine’s Day, at its core, is a day to celebrate all these different kinds of love, and it is invaluable to take the time to do it explicitly, whether you play into the commercialized nature of the holiday or not.