The real meaning of Valentine’s Day: appreciation

Irritated by all the chubby little bears holding “I love you!” hearts? Barely controlling the urge to strangle the strolling couples holding hands? Grumpy when the cheesy commercials come on TV? Darn right I feel all of those things the week before Valentine’s Day, and most definitely the day of. I tell myself, “Oh it’s a Hallmark holiday.” Why do you need one day to tell the people in your life that you love them? Why do you need to spend all this money on chocolates, stuffed animals and flowers? We will all regret the chocolates as we sweat on some stationary machine at the gym; the stuffed animals will get lost under all the other mess that’s in our room; and the flowers will wilt and wither before we reluctantly throw them away.

The ugly truth about my emotions on Valentine’s Day? I have this overwhelming wistfulness, so much so that all those other emotions like bitterness, jealousy and thriftiness concerning Valentine’s goods are all kind of lurking in the background. The simple theory behind Valentine’s Day, before all businesses and advertisements tried to make a buck, is actually pretty sweet. Just as most holidays have the principles of selflessness and thoughtfulness, what Valentine’s Day really stands for is expressing the emotions you feel, romantically or toward friends or family, through whatever medium you choose.

When we were in elementary school, this usually entailed a box of conversation hearts and a cheesy card that says “Bee mine!” Now, couples go to extremes, with dinners, dozens of roses, jewelry and all that extremely expensive romance. However, I long for the old fashioned romance: the poetry or a single rose or cooking dinner for your significant other. Valentine’s Day makes me think of all that ‘what-if’ stuff – and also makes me wish, in the simplest sense, to have someone to share that with.

Even though I am a little bitter (OK, a heck of a lot bitter. I flip those cheesy commercials pretty darn fast), I have to appreciate the rareness of actually having someone to spend Valentine’s Day with. The truth is that there are way more single people in the world. So, if you have someone to share D-day (oops, I meant V-day) with, then I suggest you appreciate it. And if you don’t, then don’t let go of those what-ifs and feel free to be as bitter as you like.

Padma Sarvepalli is a senior majoring in microbiology. She may be contacted at