By Lauren Heng ‘18
Known as the “romantic holiday”, Valentine’s Day is much more than the celebration of love or giving bears, chocolates, and flowers to our loved ones.
Valentine’s Day is clouded in myth and legend with uncanny roots.
This romantic holiday was once known as Saint Valentine’s Day to native Romans. A type of celebration involved a commemorative feast, lasting two days (Feb. 13 to Feb. 15), which was filled with naked people and pure intoxication. Furthermore, Arnie Seipel’s Feb.13, 2011 article “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day” describes the games men would play for entertainment. Men sacrificed dogs and goats then used their hides to brutally whip and harm women. Some women agreed and volunteered for this treatment, believing it would increase their chances of fertilization.
Other areas of Rome celebrated their day in secrecy by getting married. According to Telegraph’s Feb. 1, 2017 article “Valentine’s Day 2017: What it has to do with love? And who was St. Valentine?” by Cameron Macphail and Saffron Alexander, Emperor Claudius banned marriages to encourage a strong and successful army. The hopeless romantics who disagreed with this ban would use Valentine’s Day as a day to fix marriages.
Modern day society celebrates this day by sharing and exchanging time, food, and gifts with their loved ones. According to The Huffington Post’s Feb. 10, 2015 article “The History (And Present) of Valentine’s Day” by Mitch Ditkoff, Valentine’s Day wasn’t associated with romance until the late 14th century.
“Usually on Valentine’s Day, I spend the morning buying chocolate for my friends and for myself because it’s not just about romantic relationships, the ones with your friends are just as important,” said Josephine Wu ‘18.
According to the article “Valentine’s Day in the United States” in www.timeanddate.com many people celebrate Valentine’s Day by sending cards, giving gifts or flowers and arranging special nights in restaurants and hotels. Valentine’s Day cards are usually decorated with the basic symbols of cupid, red hearts (hearts in general) or different roses. However, some people use this occasion to give extravagant gifts, such as jewelry or handbags.
“To me, Valentine’s Day can be celebrated by everyone,” said Wu. “I think it’s also about showing appreciation for all of the positive relationships you have in your life. Even if you are single on Valentine’s you shouldn’t feel down because there are always good things happening around you.”
Aside from its underlying history and modern day festivities, the commercialization of love is a huge hit for business owners. According to www.usnews.com Feb. 11, 2016 article “Americans to Drop $20 Billion for Valentine’s Day” by Andrew Soergel, Americans would shell out about $19.7 billion for Valentine’s Day. Those who are expected to celebrate will most likely spend an average of $146.84 on Valentine’s Day related gifts.
“Well I am not in a relationship and I find it pretty pointless,” said Ethan Ng ‘18. “Everyday should feel like Valentine’s Day if you’re in a good relationship. Also it makes me feel kind of sad when I realize that everyone around me are receiving flowers and chocolates while I buy chocolates for myself.”
According to www.fundivo.com article “Valentine’s Day spending statistics” $4.5 billion dollars was spent on jewelry during Valentine’s Day, followed by $4.4 billion on an evening out. Furthermore, $1.98 billion was spent on flower, $2 billion on clothing, $1.76 billion on candy, $1.68 billion on gift cards/gift certificates, and $1.14 billion for greeting cards. Every year the numbers go up even further!
Some stores or restaurants even promote themselves by giving out specials and discounts to celebrate the day. Typically a day after Valentine’s Day, drug stores would discount all the chocolates and candies that haven’t been bought the day before.
Let’s not forget about those who cringe at the word “Valentine” or “love.” Despite showing your expressive love and affection towards your loved ones, there are just those who don’t see the point in Valentine’s Day.
“I don’t like Valentine’s Day,” said Michelle Chen ’18. “To me it doesn’t seem right to celebrate your relationship on that day just because it is Valentine’s Day and people shouldn’t wait on this day to express themselves to their lover.”