A brief history of the annual celebration of love, Valentine’s Day, and a look at how people celebrate this holiday.
The romantic holiday of St. Valentine’s Day falls on February 14th every year, and people all over the world use it as a way to show significant affection to those they are surrounded by and love. Everyone around the world celebrates the holiday with different traditions, but here in the United States, exchanging cards, chocolate hearts, and dinner dates come to mind. However, lots of people do not know much about the origins of Valentine’s Day besides the association with Saint Valentine, but there is much more surrounding this holiday.
The history behind this popular holiday is not as well known compared to other holidays. Some believe the holiday is celebrated in the middle of February to remember the burial of St. Valentine; however, the more popular belief is that this was when the Christian Church decided to celebrate the St. Valentine feast day in an attempt to “Christianize” the pagan festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a festival that honored the Roman god Faunus, the god of fertility and agriculture, celebrated on the 15th of February. However, after the rise of Christianity, the festival was outlawed as Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. One idea that developed in the Middle Ages in France and England was that February 14th marked the beginning of birds’ mating season, adding the aspect of love to the holiday. The lovely greetings of the holiday date back to the Middle Ages but were not in the written form until around the 15th century, when many nobles and leaders of monarchies used Valentine’s notes as communication for their love.
Now, in the 21st century, Valentine’s Day is celebrated no matter what age. When picturing this holiday, many think of a more romantic setting, yet this day is celebrated from a young age as a way for youth to celebrate friendships, delivering cards and candy to peers at school. But as people age and mature, the holiday shifts into a time to spend with a significant other. Due to this more mature view of the holiday, companies look to market Valentine’s Day in a very romantic way. This makes many people feel pressured to find a valentine with the countless ads for different types of chocolates or new diamonds to get loved ones, bringing a lot of stress to the holiday. There are also a lot of people who find the day quite simple and unnecessary, bringing to question the validity of the holiday. However, Thomas Jefferson High School senior Tyler Hrin stated, “It’s just as valid as any other holiday, because it’s about celebration,” bringing light to the idea of the true meaning behind the 14th of February. It easily got lost in translation once industries took advantage of the simplicity of St. Valentine’s Day, but many people around the world remember the holiday as a time to be with those who are special.
Senior Spartan, Alex Swats, gave insight to how she is going to spend her Valentine’s Day. “I’m going to dinner with my family [since] I don’t have a date, but I still think it’s a good time to spend with the people you care about.” Swats does an excellent job describing just how the holiday can be celebrated without any burden of finding someone specific to spend time with that day. She feels no pressure to celebrate with a significant other and recognizes that she is just as happy spending time with her family that she loves. Swats also hints at the idea that “we could definitely go without [the holiday]” but at the end of the day, she thinks it is like any other holiday that is just as fun to celebrate. Another TJ senior, Henry Nguyen, not only agrees with the ideas of Swats and Hrin but adds a different view on the holiday. Nguyen states, “Even if you don’t have a significant other you get to just take time to take care of yourself.” This is a great way to express how a holiday seemingly dedicated to spending money and energy on others or worrying about finding someone to spend the holiday with can be spent focusing on self care. The Spartan students have expressed how important this holiday is no matter the situation, providing a great example for many people who struggle around the holiday seasons.