Should we celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Photo courtesy of Carsen Miller

Anti-Valentine’s Day

Are you sad that you don’t have a Valentine to call your own this year? Maybe it is a good thing.

Valentine’s Day has mysterious origins, which can be traced back to the fifth century when the Catholic church deemed Feb. 14 be a day to celebrate the martyr Saint Valentine. In the modern era, however, Valentine’s Day has come to represent a chance to celebrate romantic love and one’s significant other.

Yet this sweet message is rarely more than another chance for corporations to take advantage of well-meaning Americans. According to the US Census Bureau, Americans spent more than $30 billion for Valentine’s Day in 2017. The marketing for Valentine’s Day goods is incessant from the start of the new year, serving as a constant reminder of one’s upcoming obligations. As a result, spending money, whether it is on presents or five-star dinners, seems to be the primary mechanism to celebrate the holiday.

When looking at the aisles of plastic roses, heart-shaped boxes, chocolates and pink teddy bears, the standard Valentine’s gifts tend to lose their meaning. Yet, the expectations for Valentine’s Day continue to climb. The pressure of the holiday puts undue stress on relationships; according to a study performed by David McCandless, Facebook breakups spike dramatically following the holiday.

This is only exacerbated by the pressure of showing off relationships on social media, and the inevitable comparison that takes place. The pressure is felt the deepest by many who are completely excluded from the holiday. According to multiple surveys, almost half of American adults are single, and celebrations which pretty much require one to be in a relationship are, by definition, exclusionary. While celebrating friendship with “Galentine’s” and “Palentine’s” Day are making strides in the right direction, they are far from substituting the main way people celebrate the holiday.

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is a holiday with wonderful intentions. However, the sentiment behind it has been soured by corporate propaganda, immense pressure on relationships and the exclusionary nature of the day. Rather than spending mass amounts of money, celebrate Valentine’s Day with intention — make handmade gifts and meals and take time to express gratitude to your loved ones — not just your romantic interests, but everyone.

This way, Valentine’s will seem like less of a chore and more of a celebration. Just make sure that your significant other is onboard to celebrate Valentine’s the same way!

Pro-Valentine’s Day

Chocolate, flowers and warm hugs … what’s not to like? While the history of Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily lead back to pink and red cupcakes and bouquets of roses, Valentine’s Day gives us all a few extra reasons to spread love and smiles — even if it’s only for the day.

I totally get it, though, not everyone is a chocolate person, appreciates the beauty of flowers or has a special someone to spend the day with. But that’s the thing. Valentine’s Day is what you make of it, so it’s for anyone and everyone to celebrate! The idea of Valentine’s Day has completely evolved, as it’s become a day to celebrate love as a whole, not just with one other person. We all have different ways of showing and perceiving love, so use this day to figure out your love languages and reclaim your worth.

Leading up to the occasion, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to spend money. Whether I’m splurging on new joggers for my boyfriend, buying all the cutest snacks and decor for an upcoming Galentine’s Party, or just getting myself the shoes I’ve been eyeing (for forever), I enjoy having a reason — or at least an excuse — to spend on the people I love. With the amount of once-a-year Valentine’s deals, there’s no reason to not add that extra bag of white creme Hershey’s Kisses to your cart.

On the 14th, everything you do is your choice. If you feel like staying in, putting on a facemask, FaceTiming your mom and ending your night with a sappy rom-com — do it. If you want to mingle with other singles, then put on your cutest red and pink fit and hit the town with your friends. And if your significant other has a romantic, elaborate date planned, have the best time (and tip your waiters well). This is your day to treat yourself to some extra fun.

If your friends already have plans for the evening, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to relax, rediscover old hobbies, and make time for yourself. There’s no better occasion to make yourself some Trader Joe’s heart-shaped pasta for dinner — and try all their other Valentine’s-themed snacks while you’re at it.

Most of all, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to love yourself, your friends, your family, and/or your significant other a little bit harder. It’s a great time to tell the people in your life how grateful you are for them; this could be through words, emojis, gifts, hugs, or quality time. It’s also the perfect time to treat yourself with kindness. Buy yourself some chocolate and flowers and don’t think too hard about the day — you’ll miss out on all the fun. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!