Just another holiday
February 16, 2007
When I started to think about Valentine’s Day, I realized how little I actually know about the history of the holiday. As far as I know, some Hallmark executive randomly chose this day 50 years ago, and couples just went along with it. I’m going to guess that I’m not the only one, so I thought that before stating my opinion on the matter, I should start by giving readers a little education on the day that so many of us celebrate.
p. There are actually numerous stories that form the history of Valentine’s Day, and no one is sure which applies to the actual holiday. At present, the Catholic Church recognizes three saints named Valentine, all of whom were martyred on Feb. 14. In one story, a Roman emperor during the third century decided that men who were unmarried and unattached were more valuable soldiers. In response, he outlawed marriage throughout Rome. However, a priest named Valentine defied the emperor and continued to secretly marry couples. When he was discovered, he was killed for his defiance on the day of — you guessed it — Feb. 14.
p. However, it was not until the 14th century that this day became associated with love. In 1381, Chaucer wrote a poem to commemorate the engagement between Richard II and Anne of Bohemia, in which he mentioned the day of St. Valentine, leading us to the tradition we know today.
p. Though its history seems somewhat morbid, Valentine’s Day has come to represent the day in which we tell our loved ones exactly how we feel. But, somewhere down the line, we started to hate it. We have all heard the complaints before. Whether you are a boy or a girl, single or in love, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that pretty much annoys everyone. At this point, it seems like the day’s sole purpose is for the executives at Hershey and Hallmark to put a few more dollars into their over-stuffed pockets. Some people say that we shouldn’t need a day to remind people that we love them.
p. I wouldn’t go that far. I think it’s good to have a special day on the calendar when you go beyond the normal expectations to show that you care. But isn’t that what anniversaries are for?
Now, Valentine’s Day seems like a yearly reminder that you are single, or just another day that you have to buy someone a box of chocolates. We all remember the days in first grade when everyone got those little cards that our parents bought in bulk, so we would have enough for everyone in the class. I never realized how different it would be when I got older. Now we expect candy and flowers, and we can even pay for an a cappella group to sing to a loved one.
p. The holiday has become so robotic. We celebrate it because we have to, not because the day actually holds meaning for us. Though I don’t really understand its entire significance, I refuse to fulfill the cliche of hating Valentine’s Day like everyone else. So for all of you who have a significant other in the world, enjoy this perfect opportunity to tell that special person how much you love him or her. As for the rest of us, who are flying solo this year, just hope that your parents send you a care package, and think about all of the money you are saving by not having to buy anyone a gift.
p. __Rachael Siemon-Carome, a freshman at the College, is a Staff Columnist. Her columns appear every Friday.__