Valentine’s Day is a holiday that I have a mixed reaction to each year. Like St. Patrick’s Day, it was originally a Christian feast day that gained popularity as a secular celebration and eventually became over-commercialized.
My first memory of the holiday goes back to when I attended a Catholic school, where I learned that St. Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of the death of St. Valentine. He was a priest who was killed for performing Christian marriages during the Roman persecution of Christians.
Until last year, I never had someone to spend Valentine’s Day with. Although I had dated, I had a particular knack for being single around Feb. 14 each year. I learned about “Singles Awareness Day,” an alternate name for the holiday, the hard way.
Television overflows with advertising for Valentine’s Day. Flowers, expensive jewelry and candies are iconic gifts offered by retailers for Feb. 14. Each year the same premise is revisited: dazzle him or her with something material, as if love can be measured by the amount you spend.
Stores are no better with lurid pink and red displays for the holiday. Cards are ready for sale; prepackaged valentines for students and vats of candy are everywhere, most of them chocolate. The day after Valentine’s Day, they will be deeply discounted, usually at least 50 percent off. Some people use this as an opportunity to shop for next year; others take advantage of cheap chocolate.
The commercialism of the holiday is a classic example of manufactured demand. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it is creating a need. Advertising and store displays tell us that we need someone to spend Valentine’s Day with and that we need to buy him or her a gift.
A lot of students, especially those who live on campus, feel as though they need to have that special someone in their lives around this time of year. However, there is nothing wrong with being single on any day of the year, including Valentine’s Day.
The holiday is supposed to be about celebrating love, which can come in many forms. Friendship is one example. If you are single, Valentine’s Day can still be fun if you spend it with friends. Last year, a group of my friends spent it watching bad movies and had a blast. Sometimes, the nontraditional route for a holiday can make for the best time.
My own plans for Valentine’s Day will be unromantic this year, consisting of work and class. I will pass out a few of those prepackaged valentines to my friends to let them know they are appreciated. Celebrate the way you want to and have a great Valentine’s Day.
Senior journalism major