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Valentine’s Day doesn’t deserve the hate

Emma Stadelmann, Opinion Writer

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Oh no; people loving one another? Showing their appreciation… with gifts and heartfelt messages? How could they commit such a foul act? I often hear people complaining about Valentine’s Day for a variety of reasons. Of course, not all of these reasons are without some truth– Valentine’s Day is heavily commercialized, often focused on the wrong sort of love and incredibly sappy. However, I still find Valentine’s Day to be a delight.

I remember when I was younger, Valentine’s Day was always exciting to prepare for. I’d sit down at my kitchen table and proceed to make a mess with red and pink paper, doilies, markers, ribbon and glue. Making valentines for my classmates, parents and grandparents was not only a lot of fun for me, but represented what I consider to be a neglected side of the holiday. A day of love, yes, but not necessarily romantic love.

Growing up a bit, I fell into the cynicism surrounding Valentine’s Day. I recall scorning sappy couples, buying chocolates for myself (out of spite) and doing away with valentines. This was ridiculous. Perhaps I just wanted to complain for the sake of it. Perhaps I disliked the commercial aspect, as I continue to do today. However, my hatred for the holiday was unreasonable and rooted entirely in a self-centered attitude.

When my sophomore year rolled around, I was still a bit of a cynic when it came to Valentine’s Day. That same year, I became an adult in the Catholic Church, choosing St. Valentine as my confirmation saint. Though I didn’t understand my choice at the time, I now have an appreciation for Valentine. Little is known about St. Valentine beyond his name and martyrdom. In fact, it is not certain whether Valentine was one man or three! However, many legends surround St. Valentine, including illegally aiding and marrying Christian couples in Rome, healing a blind child’s eyes and refusing to renounce his faith at the cost of his life. Though St. Valentine was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969 due to the vagueness surrounding his life, Valentine is still listed as a saint in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology and may be venerated on that day. He is the patron saint of courtly love, marriage and engaged couples (epilepsy and beekeepers as well, but that fact is probative to none of the points I am making). Learning about this saint and the history of the holiday bearing his name changed my perspective on the holiday. While the secular festivities on February 14 don’t really relate to Valentine (it is more likely that these originated from Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival), learning about him opened my mind to the concept of Valentine’s Day once again. At its core, this holiday celebrates love. Loving others is something we should all strive to do. While one may argue this is something we should do every day, not just on a designated holiday, I believe Valentine’s Day is an important reminder to show that love, whether in a grand gesture or in a small, personal message.

I urge you all to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or at the very least, don’t be bitter about the happiness it brings others. Yes, spending Valentine’s Day alone is disheartening. Some couples can be admittedly intolerable in their public displays of affection. However, the concept of simply showing someone that you care for them? Lovely. I don’t know about everyone else, but someone telling me I mean a lot to them makes my day, and there’s no reason that this action should be discouraged or criticized.

I’ve come to appreciate Valentine’s Day once again. And though it’s unlikely that my evening will be romantic in nature, I am certain that in the days leading up to the holiday, you’ll find me sitting at my kitchen table, making a mess with red and pink paper, doilies, markers, ribbon and glue.

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Valentine’s Day doesn’t deserve the hate