Valentine’s Day

12 Feb

Before drowning your “Valentine-less” sorrow in back to back anti-Valentine’s Day parties and using your oneness as an excuse to get sad drunk, I think it’s time to take a step back and reconsider this stigmatized holiday.

Let’s remember what February 14 was actually all about before we turned it into a day about the color red and copious amounts of chocolate. Before shortened to Valentine’s Day, the fourteenth was better known as the feast of St. Valentine. A good man back in ancient Rome, St. Valentine was sent to jail for performing weddings for soldiers and other Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. Not only did he perform marriages, but he ministered to these persecuted Christians and, according to legend, during his imprisonment, healed the daughter of the very man who jailed him (thanks, Wikipedia).

When I read this story, I find that St. Valentine’s focus wasn’t on marriage, boyfriends, girlfriends, ridiculous gifts and sex, but on acts of love; love of every kind. Just as any classic Christian Saint, he showed love and compassion for those who were never supposed to receive such care. He was able to offer affection and help the daughter of someone you would expect him to disdain. These apparent acts of love were later misconstrued by Chaucer to include hearts and cupid figures, and soon Valentine’s Day became about courting a lady with extravagant gifts and hopefulness.

So while celebrating Valentine’s Day with a lover is one form of love, let’s not forget about all the other types of love we experience every day. My mother and father used to give me gifts on Valentine’s Day; they were my Valentines and they still are. In elementary school, we made Valentines for each person in our class. These past few years my cousin and my friends have been my Valentines and chocolate, movies, dinners, and large bottles of wine are always involved.

If we’re lucky enough to be around one single person that we share a mutual love with on Valentine’s Day – any kind of love—then we have a Valentine and we’re living in the light of St. Valentine. Show love to your friends, to your family, to your classmates, to your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, dog, cat, whatever! It’s a day to appreciate who you love and those who love you.

And if you’re still down on this day for any reason, I understand.  But, if you’re sad because of a breakup, or not having your “perfect” Valentine, think about giving this a try: be your own damn Valentine. Go see a sappy movie, eat a shit ton of chocolate on the one day over-consumption of chocolate is not condemnable, and think about yourself. Pamper yourself. Because if you can’t love yourself on the one day out of the year that’s dedicated to love, how the hell can you love someone else?

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