Spend time, not money, this Valentines Day

Every Feb. 14, single people are reminded of their current relationship status, as many of their friends and loved ones celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with their significant others. However, many don’t even know where the “Hallmark holiday” came from and why we celebrate it today. Maybe if we learn why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we can also learn how to celebrate it.

According to one legend, St. Valentine was a priest during third-century Rome. At the time, Emperor Claudius II had outlawed the marriage of young men, because he believed that unmarried men made better soldiers than those who had families. Claudius sentenced St. Valentine to death upon learning that Valentine had defied him by secretly performing marriage ceremonies for young lovers.

Another legend suggests that Valentine sent the first “Valentine” greeting as a prisoner, after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him while he was imprisoned. Before his death, Valentine sent a letter to his love signed “From your Valentine,” a phrase that is still used today.

Although the legends regarding St. Valentine are obscure, all of the stories suggest that he was a sympathizer of the romances. Probably due to this reputation, Valentine became one of the most popular saints in England and France during the Middle Ages.

While many believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb. 14 to commemorate the death of St. Valentine, other theories suggest that it was an effort to “Christianize” the pagan holiday, Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture that took place on Feb. 15.

To begin the festival, the Roman priests would gather and sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purity. Then they would cut the goat’s hide into strips and dip them in sacrificial blood. They would then go around the town and “gently” slap women and crops with the strips for fertility. The women did not fear these “love taps,” because they believed they would become more fertile with the touch of the hide. Later that day, all of the single women would have their names drawn by the single bachelors to be paired for the next year. Many of the matches ended in marriage.

In our society now, Valentine’s Day is basically a commercial holiday set to remind everyone of who is single and who is not. We should of course remind our significant others of their importance to us. However, I believe that we should also remind our family and friends that they are just as important to us.

Yes, traditionally, Valentine’s Day has been about love with a partner, but in the 20th century alone, many traditions have been broken or changed. I think it would be acceptable to focus less on what to get your significant other and more about telling people you love how you feel. Honestly, if you and your partner aren’t sure how to express your feelings without gifts, there may be a problem.

Instead of buying fancy cards and overpriced flowers and candy for one person, we should focus on calling our family that lives out of town or our friends we don’t see that often. Maybe you could handwrite letters to people and send them through snail mail, or cook a nice meal at home for whomever you choose. I don’t think anything can infer love more than doing something that took time and effort.

Although part of me is deeply disturbed that Valentine’s Day may have originated from a celebration that promoted violence toward women, I can’t help but believe in what St. Valentine may have been martyred for. Therefore, I am saying to spread the wealth and spend time, not money on your loved ones.

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