Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, the day when lovers declare their love for each other and secret admirers tell their crush how they feel. Well, that’s the common narrative.
Of course, the origin of Valentine’s Day goes way back. There are two commonly stories that are thought to be the origin of Valentine’s Day. One was that the ancient Romans had a festival Lupercalia in which, according to NPR, men sacrificed a goat or dog before beating young women who were looking to find a mate. I’ve read elsewhere over the years that a names were drawn in a ‘lottery’ to determine who would marry whom. This festival was believed to take place between the 13 and 15 of February. Things changed when Catholicism became the dominant religion in the Roman Empire and the festival was dedicated to St. Valentine.
Another common theory is that Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest in the Rome around the fourth century AD. At this time, there was a crackdown on Christian traditions, including marriage. Valentine defied the Emperor, and even when he was arrested and inprisoned, continued to conduct weddings in prison. While in prison, he befriended the daughter of a Roman guard. They exchanged letters (a.k.a. ‘valentines’). It’s alleged that Valentine died on February 14, hence the date. However, the exact identity of the Saint Valentine isn’t known (there is more than one St. Valentine).
The romantic aspect of the day also has a long history, with tokens being exchanged by lovers as far back as the Middle Ages. The 1800’s was when Valentine’s Day cards started being sold by retail outlets.
Fast forward 200 or so years and I think you’ll find attitudes toward Valentine’s Day split. Some say it’s too commercial, some use it as a day to show love and appreciation to friends, while others use it to spoil their partners or show interest in a crush. I do get that the day is heavily commercialised and it’s mostly linked with American culture, rather than Australian, but I think the idea of celebrating love – either romantic or platonic – is lovely and sonething that the world could use more of, to be honest.For years, I’ve thought that Valentine’s Day was a great opportunity to show love to people who you may not show it on any given day. For lovers, it may be the push you need to propose to your loved one. You may just want to stay home woth your loved one that night, watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on DVD. Whatever floats your boat.
For some people, it may cause a genuine pain – that you wish you had someone, or maybe a reminder of a past relationship. I won’t say that this is silly or that you shouldn’t feel that way. If Valentine’s Day is one that brings pain, I hope you’ll find comfort in surrounding yourself with the things and people you love and care about.
Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is like any other day. By that, I mean it’s good for others, sometimes a new opportunity and a day that you can make what you will.
What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? How will you spend the day?