Every year, as February approaches, the countdown to Valentine’s Day begins. The first two weeks of the month are flooded with advertisements romanticizing the perfect date. However, our society has failed in celebrating the true meaning of the holiday.
Valentine's Day should be a celebration of all types of relationships in our life, not strictly the romantic ones.
The origins of the holiday date back to 496 AD. There are many different theories regarding how and why the holiday was created. One legend suggests that the first-ever valentine was sent from a prisoner. Before his death, he wrote a young girl a letter signed “From your Valentine.” Another suggests the holiday began at a Pagan Festival in the month of February. Story has it, priests would sacrifice a goat and a dog, dip the goat’s skin in blood and then slap women in hopes of increasing their fertility.
I found the history surrounding Valentine's Day very interesting because it shows that regardless of the initial reasoning behind a holiday, we are capable of changing and reshaping our ways of celebrating. What started as a way of perhaps boosting fertility, has now changed into a day of exchanging gifts, expressing gratitude and showing loved ones how much they mean to you.
In addition to romantic relationships, we engage with a variety of relationships in our everyday lives: family, friends, platonic relationships and our relationship with ourselves. All these relationships are important to celebrate every day, especially on Valentine's Day.
A poll by YouGovAmerica, revealed only 28% of U.S. adults recognized Valentine’s Day as a “real” special occasion. The fact that so few people found meaning in the holiday is upsetting. Valentine’s Day is a holiday dedicated to showing love to the special people in your life. Seeing the small number of people recognizing the holiday supports the idea that many are hesitant in expressing their love for one another. By reshaping our viewpoint on the holiday, I believe we would create a much more inclusive environment for all relationships.
In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau reported there were 126.9 million unmarried people in America from the age of 18 and older. The report also revealed that the group of divorced, widowed, separated and never married citizens made up nearly 50% of all U.S. residents. Regardless of whether people are married or in a relationship, nobody should feel like Valentine's Day is not a celebration for them.
We should encourage those who feel left out of the holiday to look at all the relationships present in their lives rather than focus on the idea of a romantic partner. By redefining the meaning of Valentine’s Day, we can relieve the pressure felt by those without a significant other.
It is also important to recognize that Valentine’s Day is not always a positive day for those in relationships. A study examining Facebook status updates found that couples are more likely to break up in the weeks both before and after the holiday. For many couples, the holiday has created impossibly high expectations that later lead to disappointment. Normalizing for other relationships, such as the relationships with family and friends, to be celebrated on this holiday would decrease the pressure placed on how romantic relationships should be celebrated on Valentine's Day.
For students like Haley Bell, a business management junior, spending Valentine's Day with friends makes for a day filled with memories and celebration.
"I love it so much," Bell said. "It's a good reason to have a night with the girls, and for my friends that aren't in a relationship. I always make the best memories when it's just the girls."
Spending quality time with family and friends is very important, not only for leisure but also for the wellbeing of our health. Researchers found that people maintaining strong relationships are more likely to live longer than those without social connections. These relationships are also tied to helping relieve stress, improving self-esteem and bettering mental health.
For those who do not have healthy relationships in their lives, Valentine's Day also serves as an opportunity to acknowledge the most important kind of love: self-love. The relationship we should focus on the most is the relationship with ourselves.
Research shows those who practice self-love experience less anxiety and depression, better stress recovery, a more optimistic outlook on life and a stronger commitment to healthy behavior changes. Taking the time this Valentine’s Day to practice self-care is a great way to celebrate the holiday.
It is important to prioritize ourselves and focus on strengthening that relationship, as much as we do with other relationships in our lives. Self-love doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as watching your favorite movie, making your favorite meal or learning a new skill. Doing whatever it is that makes you feel content and relaxed is a great way to practice self-love this Valentine’s Day.
I have always been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. While showing love is important every day, the holiday is a great excuse to show loved ones how much they mean to you. By celebrating all kinds of relationships this Valentine’s Day, we would make the holiday much more inclusive, relieve any stress that may arise and create a more positive outlook on what this day really means.
- Kadence Cobb is a journalism freshman
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