Let’s Talk About… Valentine’s Day

Before you even started reading this post, you probably had one of two reactions: “ugh, please, not again” or “YES, LET’S!”

It seems everyone these days has a love-or-hate attitude surrounding V-Day. You’re either getting a 5-foot high stuffed teddy bear for your sweetie with a romantic dinner date lit by candles and a string quartet playing in the background, or you’ve already adamantly expressed to your significant other that you absolutely despise Valentine’s Day and you should treat it as any other day of the year.

Oh, wait, what if you’re single? Valentine’s Day has often been hailed as “Single Awareness Day,” since it can seem like everyone in the world has someone to snuggle with except you. Don’t fear! I’m going to break down V-Day for everyone: single, engaged, in a relationship, not sure, totally confused, married, a friend with benefits, in a civil partnership or just refuse to identify . . . because Valentine’s Day may not be exactly what you think it is.

Reasons to Love Valentine’s Day:

1. It’s not actually supposed to be for just romantic love

Valentine’s Day is for love. Period. This is something that gets forgotten among the dozen-rose-bouquets and giant chocolate hearts. But looking at the history of Valentine’s Day, you  run into some kinda interesting facts about some guy named Saint Valentine who was actually martyred (super romantic, right?). The core of the story is this:

“According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed,  ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.” The History Channel

And, of course, there was the whole being-martyred-thing. But, since it was originally a religious day, the idea was to spread love (you know, golden rule-esque, treat your valentines as you would like to be treated). As the holiday developed (mostly recently…), it became much more focused on romantic love as opposed to the kinds of love we really should be learning about and appreciating. There has been so much research and so many sources relating to love, like the 5 Love Languages or The Four Loves or psychological theories of love. There is so much love in the world: family love, friend love, sibling love, parent love, significant other love, rival love, sexual love, jealous love, passionate love. They’re all there. This is a day for appreciating people in your love who you love and who love you.

2. The “One Billion Rising” movement

Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues has gathered a lot of press since its inception, a controversial set of monologues surrounding women’s relationships with their vaginas. What does this have to do with Valentine’s Day? Actually, a lot. Ensler created the One Billion Rising movement, signifying the one billion women (one in three) on the planet who will be abused at some point in their lifetime. The worldwide “rise, release, dance” event takes place on February 14, or “V-Day.” V-Day stands for not only Valentine’s Day, obviously, but also vagina, or violence against women. It’s a way to spend your Valentine’s Day fighting for a greater cause.

3. You can take advantage of the commercialization

It creates a day for chocolate sales! Who doesn’t love 75% off chocolate? You can end up getting really great deals on dinner and other related activities on the day of, and even more sales the day after.  Some people think it’s even better than the 14th. And people have been getting pretty ironic with their valentines these days, which adds a spark of humor to the contrived commercialization of a holiday which is really supposed to be the opposite of everything commercial. If you’re friends with me, be expecting to get some of these tomorrow.

4. Kissing is really good for you

Kissing is a great health boost. It feels good and it has some great benefits, such as boosting your immune system and metabolism, improved mood, healthier teeth, acting as a natural source of pain relief, and keeping you looking young and healthy.

5. It’s a reason to appreciate yourself

Even if you’re single, Valentine’s Day is for you too. Stop throwing a pity party and go out and perform some random acts of kindness. Treat yourself to a bit of yoga, some hot cocoa, a good book, or an extra few hours of sleep. Celebrate self-love. You deserve it.

Reasons to Hate Valentine’s Day:

1. Commercialization

Red and pink everywhere. Lace frills. Sappy Hallmark cards. Giant cupids. Everything Valentine’s-themed. Valentine’s day has definitely been swallowed by the corporate industry. Some companies are tripping over themselves with ridiculous press releases to try and get people to buy into their products for Valentine’s Day. Some argue that the commercialization allows for the holiday to be more universal and less religiously centered, but most say that Valentine’s Day is a classic example of a “Hallmark holiday” and is more annoying than inclusive with its overwhelming red, pink and white bunting draping every store you walk by.

2. It’s an arbitrary day to show someone you love them

This is an argument I hear a lot and I have to say it’s pretty valid. Why aren’t we showing the people we love that we love them every day of the year? Who decided February 14 was the day we needed to express how much we care about people (well, St. Valentine, but you know)? It’s a good question. We should really be telling the people who we love that we love them every day of the year. We shouldn’t need an excuse to express our feelings to someone.

3. Pressure!! On everyone!!

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it seems like there is an overwhelming amount of pressure to do Valentine’s Day “right.” For those who are single, it highlights the fact that societal expectations for young adults is to really be in a committed relationship. Those who aren’t starting to settle down with their significant are ostracized by creating a huge stigma around the fact that you’re “different” for not being in a relationship on V-Day. For those who are dating, married, engaged or involved with someone, the pressure then turns to making everything perfect – picking the right restaurant, the right present, the right clothes. RedEnvelope is a site which offers gifts for those in a last-minute pinch – all their presents offer free or low-cost shipping, just in case you forgot to get the perfect materialistic gift for your sweetie.

4. PDA everywhere

No one really wants to see you kissing in the middle of a restaurant. We get it, you’re in a relationship. Now let me get to my date with Netflix.

5. It encourages other strange faux holidays

Events that are protesting Valentine’s Day are popping up everywhere – those such as “Galentine’s Day” (February 13th, showing love for your “gal pals”), but the protests  are almost as cliched as Valentine’s Day itself. If Valentine’s Day didn’t exist, neither would weird excuses for showing love to your friends (which is kind of the point of V-Day anyway, right?).

So, tell me – are you a lover or a hater?

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