As a single person, sometimes I feel like I’m expected to hate Valentine’s Day. Or maybe we all feel like we’re expected to hate it. Think about it – how many people do you know who actually like the holiday? Single people hate the reminder they’re alone. Coupled people complain and say it’s a fake holiday to sell chocolate.
For your consideration, I actually like Valentine’s Day. No, scratch that. I love it.
For as long as I can remember it’s been one of my favorite holidays. I loved decorating the bags with doilies in elementary school and picking out the perfect valentines to give to my friends. I love red and pink and hearts and sparkles, and just the idea that one day a year we all get a little extra love.
Historically, I can’t find a logical reason why we celebrate. Some quick Wikipedia research revealed that stories say Saint Valentine was recognized for performing marriages for soldiers, but other stories say he was killed for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
Both stories could conceivably be true, because Valentine’s Day isn’t just the celebration of one saint, but several from early saints called Valentinus. Some speculate the timing was chosen to convert a pagan holiday to one accepted by the church. In the Middle Ages it was believed the birds mated in mid-February, adding to the legend. Romantic, right?
Ultimately it was the 14th century and Geoffrey Chaucer who made Valentine’s Day the symbol of love and devotion we now embrace (or endure) today. Next time you grumble about it being a holiday created by Hallmark to sell cards, remember this:
Valentine’s Day has been a thing for like, 700 years.
While it is technically a day for romantic love (thanks birds from the Middle Ages), I choose to view it as something better. Beyond the cliche heart necklaces that clearly say your boyfriend didn’t know what to get you and waited until the last minute, there’s a beauty to Valentine’s Day, if you choose to see it.
In high school, I started a tradition with one of my best friends. It was in the time before ‘love yourself’ and ‘treat yo self’ became the anthems of a generation, but somehow my friend and I figured it out. Every year, we would go to the movies and eat Taco Bell on Valentine’s Day. Instead of letting the pressure to have a date bother us, we automatically knew we would spend the night with someone we loved. To this day, if I see one of the movies we saw, I smile because of what it represents.
This is a tradition I now carry on alone. Every year, I take myself to the movies. I usually sneak in food (Chinese, mostly) because eating while at the movies is one of my favorite pastimes. There is no drama, no pressure, no worry. Only me enjoying my own company.
For 10 years, I’ve been my own valentine, and I have no regrets.
Beyond self-love, Valentine’s Day presents other opportunities for expressing love. Leslie Knope introduced the world to Galentine’s Day, where we ditch our men and choose to celebrate with each other and breakfast food. Last year, I spent the night with my family and we had a heart-shaped pizza. I see my nieces and truly think that there are no better valentines in the world.
We can’t change the fact that Valentine’s Day is a thing, but we can change our perspective. For Pete’s sake, we take a whole day to be thankful based on lies about how we made ‘peace’ with some Native Americans, but one day about love with over 700 years of history is unfathomable.
We show love every day, but like Thanksgiving, this is a day to be extra aware, and extra loving. To everyone, not just your significant other. Remember the value of loving yourself, and remind yourself of how valuable you are. Hug everyone you know and spread a little love. We have enough anger and resentment without bitterness over a holiday.
I don’t hate Valentine’s Day, and neither should you.