Opinion

To valentine or not? Part 2

One might think that Valentine’s Day is this wonderfully sweet holiday on which you tell someone I love you, and give them flowers, a card, or even a box of chocolates. But the truth behind Valentine’s Day is much more darker, much grimmer. The societal pressure on single individuals, the expectation that everyone must have a mate, can be overwhelming. The countless number of TV commercials pushing people to buy presents, the red colored hearts plastered around shops, radio announcements and table-for-two restaurant seem to say: “If you don’t have someone, you’re a loser.”
On Valentine’s Day, some may not be as lucky, or unlucky (depending on your view), to have someone special in their life. Those who do not have someone with whom to share this day are left wondering just why they do not have someone special in their lives. There are of course many questions also. Who was St. Valentine anyway? And further more, why was he a saint?
There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day. Some historical accounts refer to Valentine as a Christian priest who was executed on Feb. 14 270 A.D. after he defied Claudius the Goth. Legend also says that St. Valentine had left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Yet another story says Valentine was a bishop from Terni who was executed on Feb. 14 270 A.D. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside Feb. 14 to honor St. Valentine.
Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800’s and now the date is very commercialized. In the United States, Esther Howland receives the credit for manufacturing the first valentine cards. Maybe we should look at the real possibility that Valentine’s Day was a conspiracy created by card companies to create a larger profit during a time of the year where business slows down immensely and does not really pick up again till mid-May. Thus, Valentine’s Day could be considered a cruel way for corporate bigwigs to amuse themselves back at Hallmark Inc. They may even sit back laughing at the fact that they created this fallacy of a holiday and we all so foolishly bought into it. For those who swear by this sacred day in February, this is a concept that has never crossed their minds. Maybe back when Valentine’s Day began, or the rumors of St. Valentine and his hopeless love for his one and only started to circulate, people needed to believe that as companions they had this day all to themselves. People get engaged, married, and lose their virginity all in the name of the honored saint. I’m sure all of us know someone who has done all of the above. Others go out with our single friends for a girls’ or guys’ night out. Yet many sit at home with an utter feeling of despair. Valentine’s Day might be as sweet as one may say, but what good is a day designated to something that causes happiness when the day itself causes so much misery?
Denise Kolb is a sophomore majoring in criminology.

February 12, 2002

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