Valentine’s Day started as a celebration of love during challenging times. Inspired by the tireless work of Saint Valentine's who minister to persecuted Christians during the 3rd century Roman Empire (circa AD 226-270).
Fast-forward to the modern interpretation of Valentine’s Day, it is less about religious doctrine and more about the celebration of love. Love in which form, becomes a bit more convoluted…
How was Valentine’s Day celebrated while you were in primary school? There was no emphasis on this day only being about intimate love. It was a day where everyone was made to feel special. I remember having to write Valentine’s Day cards to all of my classmates (even the ones I didn’t like much) and find something nice to say. It was a foundational lesson to embrace our differences, know everyone can be appreciated in some way and love wasn’t a scarce resource.
Now I don’t remember when exactly the shift happened for me, maybe 14/15 years old. My peers and I started to see Valentine’s Day differently. We left the collective celebrations and made it about us. We started to understand from the adult perspective-it was exclusive, only about one type of desirable love, and required consumerism in some way to celebrate it. This was only further validated as the years went on with the blasts of advertising would arrive about what you should do, buy, who had the best romantic Valentine’s Day stories or banded together as ‘miserable’ single people to protest it until it was your turn.
How did we go from an unwedded priest who loved everyone, especially the most vulnerable, to what it is today? I believe we are closer to what the essence of Valentine’s Day is supposed to mean as children than we now are as adults.
No one holiday should define your celebration of love or who gets included in it. I’m proud I’ve preserved my childhood practice of Valentine’s Day. Each year, most of my friends, family, even colleagues will get a fairly cheesy but true message of how I’m grateful for them being in my life. It becomes a day, regardless of my relationship status, where I’m truly happy and reminded about how many great people I have in my life.
Celebrations don’t need other’s approval in how they are done, understood, or interpreted. You get to choose. Let these days create your own traditions, remind you of things that can only fill you up, and give back. When you change your frame of mind the whole picture can shift.
P.S. If I can send you a note to help make your Valentine’s Day great, respond back and it would be my pleasure :)