In Defense of Valentine’s Day

For most of my twenties, I was miserably single. Despite having a few boyfriends during those years, I think I only celebrated about two Valentine’s Days as part of a couple. (Until I started dating my husband, anyway.) I remember spending several February 14th’s deliberately dressed in black, sometimes with no makeup, grouchy and rude to anyone who seemed even slightly happy. Yes, it was an extreme reaction, and not a particularly mature one. I don’t remember when or why I changed my mind, but eventually, I did. Somewhere in my late twenties, before I’d even met my husband, I decided to make Valentine’s Day about more than being part of a couple. I made it about loving my friends, loving my family, and just love in general. Yes, Valentine’s Day has it’s issues, but I am here to stand up for it. In defense of Valentine’s Day, I say you can enjoy the day any way you want!

How’d this all start?

If you’ve followed my writing awhile, you’ll know I like to find out where traditions that our society insists on following come from. The origins of Valentine’s Day, to make a long story short (which you can read in more detail here) are actually pretty gruesome. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius combined a pagan festival of fertility, Lupercalia, with St. Valentine’s Day, which honored two Christian martyrs, both named “Valentine”. Writers like Shakespeare and Chaucer made the day into something much sweeter and people in Europe exchanged handmade cards. 

When factories started mass-producing greeting cards in the 1800s, the popularity only grew. Hallmark Cards started selling Valentine’s cards in 1913 and here we are. That lame ex you used to have that complained Valentine’s Day was just a “greeting card holiday”? He wasn’t totally wrong, but he wasn’t totally right, either. He was just a jerk who couldn’t be bothered to get you a two-dollar card.

So, do I still have to buy something?

Despite the cynical beginnings of this holiday, I still think it’s worth celebrating. Yes, it’s commercialized, but you don’t have to spend a bunch of money unless you want to do so. You don’t even have to celebrate on the very day – I often insist that my husband and I celebrate on a different day to avoid the crowds and overpriced “special” meals at restaurants. If you want some out-of-the-box, less expensive ideas for Valentine’s dates, I’ve got a few right here:

  • Create a scavenger hunt. This is way more fun than you think it is!
  • Go on a picnic – if the weather’s bad, you can have it in your living room!
  • Have a movie night in. Get the good popcorn!
  • Eat breakfast in bed. Toss an old sheet on your bed if you or your sweetie are prone to spilling (like I am)

Other ways to celebrate

I hear some of you out there who don’t have a significant other in your life. You think that all of this is very easy for me to say, since I’m part of a couple. That may be true, but Valentine’s Day can still be for you, too! Why not spend it with someone else in your life that you love and value, whether that is a family member or friend? Similarly, even if you are part of a twosome, you can use this day to celebrate someone who doesn’t have a Valentine, whether that’s due to distance, death, or some other reason. This day might be particularly difficult for them without a person they love.

Even if you aren’t ready to wear red on February 14th and you hate hearts, you can still enjoy the day. In defense of Valentine’s Day, love comes in many forms and everyone of them is worth celebrating. Barring all that, you can always pick up discount candy and flowers on February 15th.

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