Valentine’s brings up many different emotions for a wide array of people. Happiness to those in healthy relationships, saddness to those that aren’t in one, longing or loneliness for those who want to be in a relationship. It brings pressure to those in relationships to make sure they do something special. And it brings anxiety to 7th graders when they’re waiting for their name to be called signifying that someone bought them a flower. I love love. I’m a sucker for all romantic comedies and I watch viral videos of engagement proposals. But I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day (as my parents can attest, I used to color the day black on the calendar as a way to “skip it” when I was probably 14.) But as time has gone on and I’ve been lucky enough to be in relationships, I’ve ended up enjoying the day as another reason to go out to dinner and hopefully get flowers for my kitchen table. But when thinking about it this year, it dawned on me that I have no idea what the origin of Valentine’s Day is? What does it actually mean? What’s the real purpose? How did people celebrate Valentine’s Day before there were boxes of chocolates and 1-800-flowers?
So I decided to look it up, and to be up front, I really don’t like the origins of this holiday. Let me give you a synopsis of where it comes from. In the century 3 A.D., the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia by men sacrificing a goat and a dog and then would whip women with the hides of these slained animals! Young women actually would line up for the men to hit them, because they believed that it would make them fertile. There was then a matchmaking selection in which a woman could be ‘coupled’ up with a man. So romantic, right?
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name this day after Emperor Claudius II executed two men during this same festival— both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years. This, for some reason unknown to me, was then honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. As years passed, Shakespeare began writing about this day and romanticizing the realities of it which lead to popularity in European countries during the Middle Ages where people began creating handmade cards for their loved ones. by 1913, Hallmark of Kansas began mass producing “Valentine’s Day” cards and the rest is history.*
But what if we changed this day to simply a day of LOVE? Then anyone and everybody who wanted to celebrate could feel like they’re included on this day. Of course, those in healthy relationships that want to do something sweet for their partner, do it! But how about loving yourself? How about sending love out to the universe or to Mother nature? If we could all act in a loving way today– not to just those that we’re “in love” with but all those individuals, animals and things that we love, this day could be far more meaningful and positive in a world currently so divided.
Why not get a trash bag and pick up around your community? Love your mother Earth.
Why not send a letter to a friend that you haven’t talk to in a while and tell them how much they mean to you still.
Why not volunteer at a homeless shelter and show love to those individuals who very much need it?
Why not reach out to an old teacher and tell them that the love they put toward you has inspired you in someway?
Why not call your mom and dad and say thank you for all the love they’ve given you in your life?
Why not show yourself some love by getting a massage or going for a hike or doing whatever it is that your soul desires? Loving yourself is not selfish, it is actually selfless. Because if you don’t love you then there’s certainly no room for you to truly love others.
There are so many ways to show love– flowers and cards and chocolates and dinners are all nice– but there’s other ways to show you, your partner, your friend, your neighbor, and your world that you love them. Even if it’s just one act of loving kindness today, I dare you to do it.
Don’t let your Valentine’s Day be filled with negative emotions — sadness, loneliness, anxiety, anger– simply make YOUR Valentine’s Day a day full of L-O-V-E.
Lots of love & light,
*source cited: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day