Every February 14, the world celebrates the death of two men that no one knows anything about. The two men were martyrs from the 100s and 200s AD and were surprisingly named Valentine. Both men were persecuted for their beliefs and eventually ended up dying for their church. They were passionate and dead. Now we celebrate their death day by attempting to prove our love to others.
The most popular Valentine was imprisoned by the emperor of Rome who gave Valentine a chance to convert to Roman Paganism. After Valentine refused he was sentenced to death. Supposedly, before his death, he sent a love letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “Your Valentine.” This was the beginning of the end of spontaneous love notes and the start of commercialized love and unrealistic expectations.
However, Valentine is not the main person to blame for the pointless gifts and lonely feelings. Geoffrey Chaucer and his court started the movement of sending “singing telegrams,” sweets and love notes. Now the expectations are set to an outstanding limit, even for children and teens.
When we were kids in elementary school, we got a list of every kid in our class and labeled store bought “My Little Ponies” and “Transformers” valentines to each kid. Life was simple then. The hardest part of the day was figuring out how to make the coolest Valentine’s box in your class.
After years of conformity, you moved to junior high and were expected to give your friends and teachers valentines. This was also the years of when you realized that you could hurt someone easily by not giving them a gift and that boys were the ones you really wanted to get valentines from.
Come high school, you are wracked with nerves on who deserves your time and money. If you have a boyfriend, were you supposed to make a scene? Do you get something for your homely friends who won’t get anything else? What is the correct etiquette?
Now that we’re in college, it seems like all the old rules from any previous schools are out. Even if you have friends in your classes, who wants to get a chocolate sucker that says “I WUV WOO!”? If you have a significant other life is even easier. The way you two choose to celebrate normally doesn’t involve decorating each other’s lockers.
Valentine’s Day should be about the two dead Saint Valentines’. Well, in a way. These men stood up for what they believed in and one of them used his last moments to express that feeling that we are all fighting for – love.
So go ahead and spend outrageous sums of money on a Tiffany’s bracelet that your girlfriend will be too scared to wear for fear of breaking it. Go ahead and spend 40 plus hours making your boyfriend a “quilt of love.” This one day, out of 365 other good days of the year, is the best excuse you can use to muster the courage to finally express your feelings to all of your loved ones. It’s not what we make or buy that makes this holiday what it is, it’s how we choose to feel about it.