If the date at the top of the page of today’s paper is not enough of an indication, today is Valentine’s Day, a day that can be blissful for those who have a special someone to share it with or is a personal hell for those who are single. Many believe greeting card companies have relentlessly glorified this day and that the holiday was dreamed up solely to make money. That is not how Valentine’s Day began, but is what keeps it going today.
The origins of the holiday are as complicated, cloudy and ambiguous as love itself. Valentine’s Day has some Catholic and Roman roots, as it used to be the feast day of St. Valentine. According to some accounts, in 496 Valentine was made the patron of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman pagan holiday in which young men picked names of young women who would be their lover for a year.
Yet there is much uncertainty surrounding who exactly St. Valentine was. Some say he was a priest who was beheaded in prison, while others say he was an individual who married couples in secret when marriage was outlawed, and some are not sure if he existed at all – which is why the Catholic church has not celebrated him as a saint since 1969.
Surely the profits to be reaped by florists, greeting card companies and candy makers are motivation enough to keep this holiday rolling. Yet materialism should not be the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day; it is about thoughts and feelings of love, and is the perfect day to express those thoughts and feelings.
This holiday, like so many others, can be reduced to diamonds or expensive floral arrangements, but that would be missing the point. Valentine’s Day is to be shared with those near and dear to one’s heart, such as friends and family – it does not necessarily have to be a significant other. So find yourself somebody to love and have a happy Valentine’s Day.