Why the day of love needs more attention
There are two types of people in the world: those who love Valentine’s Day and those who hate it. Although opinions differ between people, the general argument comes from the basic understanding of what the holiday is and what it aims to do.
Valentine’s Day has been appropriated in popular culture to represent love and adoration, particularly within romantic relationships. However, many people within secular communities tend to ignore an important aspect of the holiday. The holiday’s true name isn’t “Valentine’s Day,” but “St. Valentine’s Day.”
Deriving from Christian history, St. Valentine’s Day is meant to commemorate the man, or men, by the same name. There is a lot of debate over who St. Valentine really was, but modern historians favor a theory claiming St. Valentine was actually three men. Since they all lived around the same time, worked in similar ways and shared the same name, they were lumped together to form a unified character.
Martyrs are important in Christian history because they were men and women who would rather die than give up their faith. The Valentines were no exception, suffering cruel deaths for practicing their faith. At least one of the Valentines was arrested and charged for conducting marriages illegally.
Today we have all but forgotten the St. Valentine martyrs. They aren’t taught in most public schools, and their stories don’t attract the same level of adoration that teddy bears and other Valentine’s Day merchandise does. St. Valentine’s Day has roots in Christianity, but most people would be hard-pressed to call it a religious holiday. Their attention shifts to money.
The implicit monetary gain in a holiday like Valentine’s day is seen everywhere from the cinema to clothing stores to restaurants to schools.
In 2018, the National Retail Federation conducted a study claiming U.S. citizens would spend approximately $19.7 billion on Valentine’s Day that year. According to Fortune, Valentine’s Day is celebrated mostly by women between the ages of 25-34 who make $50,000 or more a year. The numbers decrease as ages increase, leaving the impression that Valentine’s Day has become a special holiday for young women more than anyone else.
Many people dislike the holiday believing that it has a disingenuous meaning when coupled with money. It is not uncommon to hear people — especially men — say, “I don’t need a company to tell me when to by my significant other flowers!”
This argument is valid. People have the ability to tell their loved ones they love them any day of the year. They have the option to buy them flowers just because the beauty reminds them of their love for each other. They can sit down and write a love letter, listing everything they appreciate about their partner. They can make their loved one their favorite meals, take them out on a romantic date or read them poetry in the park.
They could do any of that any day of the entire year — but they don’t. They wait until St. Valentine’s Day.
The reason so many women want flowers and stuffed animals on St. Valentine’s Day isn’t because they value those materialistic things. Most women would buy their own chocolate if they wanted it that badly. Women don’t care about the money or the gifts; what they care about is the thought behind them.
When men say St. Valentine’s Day has no purpose and express a desire to skip the holiday, what many women hear is that their partners don’t want to take time out of their daily lives for them. They might love them, but they don’t want to take the time to show it.
Holidays are special because they give us time to reflect on life. The point of St. Valentine’s Day is not to buy candy or eat at a fancy restaurant or watch cheesy rom-coms. Rather, the holiday is a time to remember those you love, to dedicate a special time to see, talk and experience life with them.
On this holiday we should remember some people died for the sake of love, in both ancient and modern times. We should remember some people died to officiate marriages that the government didn’t approve of. We are called, in short, to remember love is not a passive thing. It is not something to take for granted because it can be gone in a heartbeat. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be a chore for someone to say, “I love you.”