Valentine’s Day may be one of the most controversial holidays (that isn’t offensive like Columbus Day). People either passionately love it OR hate it so much they denounce all lovers who celebrate it. But personally, I love it, and I don’t even have a lover — and never have on Valentine’s Day.
First off, the history of Valentine’ Day is one of tragedy and love. There are many different versions, each with minor or major differences, and the holiday is based on two (or possibly three) different men and a pagan holiday. I’ll tell you my favorite version about a martyr priest named Valentine.
Rome Emperor Claudius II was having a difficult time getting married men to be good soldiers, since they would rather be home with their wives and children. To fix this, he simply made it illegal to get married. St. Valentine opposed this law, and continued to marry many young couples in secret. As he was marrying a couple, he was found out. He helped the couple escape, and in doing so, he alone was caught and sentenced to death. As he sat in a prison cell, he befriended the jailer and his daughter. The daughter kept him company in friendship up until his last days. On Valentine’s last day, he left a note for her signed “Your Valentine” (which is where that saying comes from).
I mean, isn’t that just the sweetest, yet tragic? Not only that, but it opens up the door for friends to celebrate Valentine’s Day as well. No need for Galentine’s Day (although, it is nice).
Love is love. It comes in many forms: romantic, familial, friendship and self-love. So yes, traditionally, Valentine’s Day is for couples. But who says you can’t spend it with your friends, family or by yourself? Why has it become a day for society to shame you for being single?
Like I said, I have been single for every Valentine’s Day of my 19 years of life. My family has a little tradition where we get small gifts for each other, watch movies and make homemade tempura for dinner and chocolate strawberries for dessert. Granted, the tradition probably started because my parents had kids in their lives now, and couldn’t spend the day alone. But still, it taught me that all love is important and deserves to be celebrated — it doesn’t get to be hogged by those in romantic relationships.
From this, I spread that love to my chosen family — my close friends. Before Galentine’s Day was mainstream, I kept the elementary tradition alive that we all did as kids of buying valentines for friends. I got little chocolate boxes for my close friends and will continue to do so.
As I grew up (and remained single) I grew in self-love as well. Why should I wait to be dating someone to receive flowers and chocolate? I have no shame in admitting I buy them for myself throughout the year, and especially on Valentine’s Day. I love myself and I will spoil myself, I don’t need someone to do it for me. And neither do you.
So maybe Valentine’s Day has become capitalized by corporate greed. Maybe it has become a day where society shamelessly shames single people. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be a day for couples sure, but also for family, friends and for yourself.
Of course, it’s your choice. Passionately hate Valentine’s Day if you like for whatever your reasons may be (and that’s totally valid). But while you are staring down every happy couple, I will be spoiling myself and my friends.