Valentine’s Day: To Be or Not To Be A Worthless Holiday

Valentines Day: To Be or Not To Be A Worthless Holiday

Mia Bartl, Reporter

Whether you love or hate the holiday, there’s no denying that Valentine’s day is a force to be reckoned with. Roughly 250 million roses and 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year in the U.S. on February 14. Not to mention that Valentine’s day reservations are made an average of 11 days in advance to ensure a romantic evening. With all of the money, time, and effort expended on the holiday, it is natural to wonder how it all started. 

The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints, named either Valentine or Valentinus, all of which could be the person for which the holiday was named. One legend goes that, after Emperor Claudius Ⅱ banned marriage as an attempt to create a more focused army, a priest named Valentine continued to marry couples in secret. 

Another legend disregards the marriage ban entirely, and instead says that Valentine was a priest who helped Christians escape from harsh Roman prisons. In these prisons, Christians were brutally beaten and tortured, and it is easy to see why the man who rescued them would deserve an international holiday. 

Yet another Valentine’s Day origin story explains the phrase “from your Valentine.” The story goes that Valentine, upon being arrested, fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. With his death sentence looming, Valentine addressed his final letter to his love, and signed  it, “from your Valentine.” Needless to say, the phrase stuck. 

Another Valentine’s day theory says that Valentine’s day is the Christianized form of a formerly Pagan holiday, Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Roman founders Romulus and Remus as well as Faunus, the Roman god of Agriculture. Lupercalia was celebrated with animal sacrifice as well as the beating of women with animal hides. These beatings were believed to help make the women more fertile for the coming year.

Valentine’s day catches a lot of slack for being over-commercialized, or pointless, but this line of thinking omits the real idea behind the holiday: Valentine’s day is meant to be a time to appreciate those in your life who you care about, those who you love. Elementary school kids swap handmade cards and sweets, high schoolers send carnations, and couples everywhere spoil each other with gifts and a romantic night out. Countless films have been made, my personal favorite being Valentine’s Day (2010), restaurants and stores offer special discounts, special concerts or events are booked, all in an effort to make Valentine’s day special. So, take some time today to show your loved ones your appreciation, in whichever way makes sense to you. 

Happy Valentine’s day!