Unboxing Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine who became a martyr and a symbol of love after he was executed for secretly performing marriage ceremonies for soldiers in the third century. (Photo Courtesy of Pixabay)

February 14th is a unique holiday celebrated by thousands around the world each year. A day for expressing affection, romance, and love, Valentine’s Day has a different significance for each person. The holiday’s actual origin is unknown, even though there are quite a lot of theories. However, the purpose and meaning of Valentine’s Day have undoubtedly evolved since its original creation.

“I think Valentine’s Day is cute for some people, but some people just take it too seriously. It really depends on the person, and how far they take it. Obviously, the way the Romans celebrated was not very affectionate, at least not by today’s standards, but people today still take Valentine’s Day too far sometimes by making it a bigger deal than it actually is,” says freshman Abby McDonald.

A common theory for the origin of Valentine’s Day is from the Roman feast and festival called Lupercalia, which celebrated spring, fertility, and ancestors. Women would place their names into a drawing to pair up with a man for the following year. The women would then line up for the men to whip them with animal hides in hopes of ensuring fertility.

“Valentine’s Day is meant to be happy and fun, and I loved how elementary school implemented that. Everyone in my class used to bring Valentines for everyone else, and we would pass them out with candy and little kind notes to everyone. Everyone was so friendly, and I wish we still did things like that,” says sophomore Shelby Bowers.

Valentine’s Day also has some important events associated with it that were not meant to bring good fortune. Roman emperor Claudius II believed marriage was bad for war because the men would not fight as hard. He thought they would worry that their absence would bring hardship to their wives and families. However, a priest named Valentine married people in secret and was executed when the emperor discovered this. He wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter before his execution and signed it: “From your Valentine,” which is where the idea of calling one’s lover a Valentine comes from.

“I think Valentine’s Day isn’t just happy all the time. I feel like it puts pressure on people in relationships because they feel like they have to live up to a certain expectation on Valentine’s Day, such as buying chocolate, flowers, or even writing a heartfelt card. Also, it’s so commercialized now that it has somewhat lost the romantic touch. All that anyone cares about is the chocolate and flowers, and not so much the thought behind it all,” says sophomore Mariah Cash.

Even though the main focus of Valentine’s Day is said to be love, the pressure it places on relationships can’t be ignored. Thousands of people in relationships want and even expect material gifts on Valentine’s Day. Our society’s desire to outdo one another can be difficult to disregard.

“I think Valentine’s Day now is represented by over-the-top romantic gestures to one another. Valentine’s Day hasn’t really evolved too much over the years, except that the typical gestures have evolved from simple gestures to material things like boxes of chocolate,” says sophomore Liam Sinclair.

Valentine’s Day has become more and more about materialism and profit. Lovers are more interested in the prettiest flowers, the best chocolates, and the biggest stuffed animals. Likewise, stores are interested in the best products to make the most money. This year, it is projected that almost 20 billion dollars will be spent on Valentine’s Day alone!

“I’ll probably spend about $20 on my girlfriend. I’m planning to buy her flowers and chocolate. I feel like even though our society makes us feel like the ‘stuff’ is the most important, the time we spend together is really what matters,” says sophomore Daniel Kisler.

Despite all the commotion about Valentine’s Day, whether it be flowers, chocolate, stuffed bears, or cards, the true roots of Valentine’s Day have always been centered around love. Love doesn’t have to only be found in a relationship; love can be towards friends and family as well. If you look under all the bows and packages, Valentine’s Day is a day devoted to admiring all the relationships in your life.

“[Valentine’s] day is about being nice to people and letting them know you love them. One of my favorite memories of Valentine’s Day was when my dad surprised me with a little gift. It wasn’t the actual gift that really touched me, but the thought behind it. Everyone should focus more on being kind to others this Valentine’s Day and not just spending money on them,” says Cash.