Michaels: A new perspective on Valentine’s Day

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Michaels discusses the various perceptions of Valentine's Day. - Graphic / Julia Quennessen

Oh, Valentines Day — the most loving, yet hated, holiday. The one that is characterized by hearts, flowers, chocolate, and of course, romance. It can make you feel more alone than anything or can make you feel like you’re living in a Hallmark movie. 

When we were younger, it was a day to give out candy to our friends in school. It had a special magic to it, but as we’ve grown it has become a day for love, sadness and occasional judgment.

Every year, I find myself criticizing the holiday and saying I dislike it. Yet, I always celebrate it with a special person or with my friends. I have made silly Valentine’s videos for classes in high school, and never fail to wear red or my sweater filled with hearts. And, of course, I always use it as an excuse to do cute pink and red makeup. 

I, along with many others, hold a plethora of diverse opinions when it comes to this day of love. While I find love to be a beautiful gift in a world filled with unknown journeys and lessons, I feel there are parts of Valentine’s Day that are cliché and viewed in the wrong light. Even I am guilty of this. 

I took to social media to get some views aside from my own and the opinions and responses varied. Here is what some of those who responded had to say. 

“For me it’s not just about love in a romantic relationship, but love in other relationships too,” said Siena Rampulla, a Senior psychology student here at Rowan. “My dad sends me a bag of Hershey Kisses every Valentine’s Day. I hang out with my girls around the time too. The day is where I spend with my boyfriend.”  

However, opinions ranged from positive to negative.

Hannah Barletta said Valentine’s Day is a “Capitalist hellscape created to help popularize the flower and chocolate industries and make people feel bad about being single on a random day in the middle of winter.” 

Some other things I heard included that it makes people want to have a special someone or it is not worth it if you don’t, as well as the idea that it is meant simply to make companies money. 

Between my conflicting opinions on the day, along with the differing opinions I heard, this got me thinking. Does anyone actually know where Valentine’s Day comes from and why it is celebrated the way it is? 

What most people know, or at least what we are taught in school, is that this day comes from the Christian religion and was named for a martyr, Saint Valentine. As time passed, folk traditions led to it being a commercial celebration of love and romance in many places around the world. 

Interestingly enough, it was not until the Middle Ages that this day would be seen for romance, due to the fact that the month of February was the beginning of birds’ mating season

But what is often left unknown is that there was a Pagan holiday that had long preceded this Christian holiday. The celebration of Lupercalia falls on Feb. 15, originating as an ancient Roman festival. Its origin stems from a dedication to the Roman agriculture and fertility god Faunus. 

“Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed — as it was deemed “un-Christian”— at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day,” it reads on HISTORY’s website. “It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love.”

So, the holiday that holds so many strong views from loving it to hating it has a long history that many don’t know. What has become a day for a celebration of love, was actually a holiday created to undermine another holiday that was disliked by a different religion. 

Interestingly enough, Lupercalia has more to do with love than the original creation of the holiday we celebrate every Feb. 14 — with a dark twist. 

The holiday was celebrated only one day after Valentine’s Day and included animal sacrifice, matchmaking and coupling. It highlighted sexuality and violence, all in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and welcoming fertility. 

Between the history, the commercialization and the romance it has ultimately lead to bitter singles feeling down. It makes sense why there are such varying opinions on the day. It is corrupt and misunderstood. 

Love should be celebrated because it is beautiful, but this day should not be used as an excuse to only share and celebrate that love in an extra special way for just one day. You should love always. 

This holiday should be a reason to give a bouquet, but a flower should still be given every day. And I think that it is important to remember that this day should be special but to not forget romance and signs of affection every day. 

Love your friends, love your family, love your significant others and love yourself. Enjoy the holiday, dress in pink and red, eat some chocolate and enjoy the day. Whether you like it or not, remember and appreciate the history and share some love. 

The Whit’s news intern and sophomore journalism major, Madison Miller, shared her opinion with me on the matter — and honestly, I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

“I love love, so I like the idea of it and I like candy and I think that even if you’re single you can still love your friends and family and have a good time,” Miller said. 

And after all, as the Whit’s editor-in-chief, Berry Andres, says “It’s the only holiday that its theme is pink. Not to be confused with the pastel theme of Easter.” 

Who doesn’t love some pink? 

For comments/questions about this story, email the.whit.rowan@gmail.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline

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