Valentine’s Day has always brought about different reactions from people all over the globe. Though there is a significant line that divides the single people and the people who actually have a date on V-day, this line does get more complicated if you take a closer look.
The young people are the ones that commonly celebrate Valentine’s Day. Budding lovers from teenagers to young adults, touch into their inner sweet side and give gifts, flowers, love letters, and whatnot. Random fact: In the United States, Americans spend nearly FIFTEEN billion dollars on Valentine’s Day, one billion cards will be sent out (which is second only to Christmas), 20% of women will send roses to themselves, 3% of you will send something to their pets.
But what if you’re the type of girl who doesn’t like all the mushy stuff? What if you’re the guy who just won’t bend down to the world and even call all the celebrations a shenanigan? What if your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t celebrate this day and you’re the only one who’s really into it? What if you’re the couple who thinks going out just for the sake of Valentine’s is such a drag?
Valentine’s Day is also celebrated by married couples and maybe even older ones like our grandparents. On paper, married couples should be a testament of love as marriage is the ultimate symbol of the union of two souls. They should be a symbol for all young people that true love does exist. Married couples are an inspiration, our hope, our future, our…. Okay I’ll stop. Who am I kidding? Nowadays married couples have probably about 1/5 chances of lasting and those who do last, are they even really happy? How do married men and married women see Valentine’s Day? Isn’t it still kinda sweet when we see old people hold hands? But what if we also see a businessman out on a V-day but clearly is with his hot young mistress and not his wife? What if you’re watch salesman and you just sold a $300 watch to a woman who says she’s giving it to her other lover?
Single people I believe have more complications than those who have a significant other. How do you see Valentine’s Day if you’ve been single you’re whole life? What if you’ve been searching for someone for so long? What if you just recently broken up with someone? Are you bitter as hell? What if you’re afraid to give a gift to your friend thus rocking the boat on your friendship while trying to rise from the friendzone? What if you just simply don’t care what day it is?
Whether you care or not, whether you celebrate the day or don’t, fact of the matter is, it’s still in the calendar. The magnitude of the holiday transcends all feelings – good or bad, which affects people one way or another.
What got me thinking however is what would St. Valentine feel if he saw all the Valentine hoopla today? Would he approve of it? Would he scoff at what society has made the holiday to be? Would he be surprised at the attention it gets every year? Is this what he intended love to be?
There are different but still related accounts pointing to the history of Valentine’s Day. Centuries ago, it was a Roman festival celebrated by the people. They’d first celebrate the feast of Juno wherein women put their names inside a jar and random boys will pick the names up. They then pin the names on themselves (which brought the term “putting your heart on your sleeve”) and find the girl that matches the name. The boy and the girl would hang out for a week to celebrate the feast of Lupercalia. In most cases, the couples would get married after. Seems like a pretty cool set up right? It’s like a different case of arranged marriage.
So how does St. Valentine come in?
The emperor at that time (I think it was Claudius) didn’t like the idea of people getting married left and right. Primarily because his soldiers started to fall in love and get married and they chose to just stay at home with their wives rather than go into battle. That couldn’t be good for an empire right? So the emperor banned marriages altogether. However, a guy named Valentine believed in love. A pastor at that time, Valentine would marry people secretly. He would whisper the vows for young couples so that marriages could still happen. Unfortunately, he got caught and was sent to prison. There at prison he met the daughter of the jailer whom he fell in love with. On the day he was supposed to be executed he wrote a letter to his lover ending with the words “your Valentine.”
During the 5th century, the Church thought about a way to redefine love in terms of Christianity. They chose Valentine. They wanted to redefine the feast of Lupercalia and represent what love truly is. Though it’s a farfetched version of what Christ did on the cross, maybe they simply wanted people to believe that a man can display love in its purest form. Against an emperor who wanted to abolish the union of two people, he pressed on and made sure that couples would be together despite the fear of being caught. Also in the most dangerous circumstances, he found love in prison of all places. He believed in the power of love and what it could do to people. He died single and had no children but that didn’t stop him from believing in love, sharing it with others, finding someone to be with, and finally risking for love despite getting his head chopped off.
[Random fact: There are about a dozen or more saints named Valentine plus a pope! The one I’m talking about is St. Valentine of Rome. However, there are still several slightly varied accounts of him. I chose to stick with this version in any case.]
Maybe St. Valentine didn’t intend for a holiday. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of that when he was in prison. He simply believed in love – love for another person, love for a wife, and love for what he believed to be pure and true. He believed in a love that encompasses all and precedes all.
We all have our own expectations or apprehensions towards Valentine’s Day. In one way or another, we’ve experienced love in its various forms. We may have experienced love and also the inevitable heartaches that come with it. It can be as simple and heartwarming as being a young boy and giving a flower to your crush or as extreme and saddening as a husband leaving his wife. For whatever your feelings may be, for whatever situation you are in right now, single or married, in a relationship or not, heartbroken or not, I genuinely hope we all find a love that surpasses anything and worth risking everything just like St. Valentine’s.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
(This serves as my Valentine’s post plus my entry to a Writing Challenge here at WordPress: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/writing-challenge-valentine/)