Why Do We Celebrate Valentine's Day?

By Bailey Marshall

Just like any other holiday, Valentine’s Day is glorified by American culture. America is a society that is obsessed with love; the U.S.’s, and really the world’s, fascination with the emotion drives our economy, social habits, and even our personal preferences. It makes sense that there is a day devoted to the emotion that oftentimes determines human happiness. But, has it gone too far? Is Valentine's Day just a simple opportunity for the flower shops to make more money, Hallmark to sell more cards, and Dove to solidify their brand’s reputation?

Let's start from the beginning, how did Valentine's day become such a big production? Early origins of the holiday date back to the Roman Empire. In mid February, the Romans hosted a festival centered around fertility that celebrated the coming of Spring. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, this festival was called “Lupercalia.” During the festival, women were paired off with men through a lottery system and were married. In the fifth century, the Pope changed the name of the festival from “Lupercalia” to “St. Valentine’s Day.” After years of more informal celebration, the holiday molded into a day of romance during the fourteenth century. Although it is not proven to be true, legends have it that a Christian martyr around 270 C.E. began courting his imprisoner's daughter sending her notes signed, “from your valentine.”

The commercialism of Valentine’s Day began in the 14 and 1500 hundreds. Cupid is commonly associated with the holiday because he is the Roman symbol for love, fittingly. Valentine’s Day quickly became the most common wedding anniversary and gifts like flowers, cards, candy, etc became common ways to celebrate.

In short, Valentine’s day is a true representation of American commercialism, but even more so it is a depiction of our obsession with love. Love it or hate it, the gushy holiday comes every year, and with it comes pressure for guys to shower their girlfriends with affection and for girl, to well, find a guy to shower them with affection. Regardless of your outlook on the day of love, there is a way for everyone to celebrate.

First thing is first. If you are in a relationship during Valentine’s Day, date night is most likely obligatory. However, exactly how you spend your date night, or day frankly, is up to you both. Some couples opt for a nice dinner simple quality time. Others like to quick back and watch a movie and eat some chocolate.

In Botetourt there are many options to choose from when it comes to eating. Many restaurants like Tizzone and Tap House are simple and close options. There are even some restaurants that offer dinner specials in order to bring people in on that night making it more affordable for couples to enjoy a night out.

As you get closer towards Roanoke, more date night options arise. For example, the Black and White Ball hosted by the square society offers a $250 dollar ticket in exchange for a night of elegant dancing as well as a full course meal and open bar.

If going out does not sound appealing to you and your Valentine’s Day date, you can always hit the couch and watch Netflix and chill for the evening. Or, you or your date can put the chef’s hat on and cook a nice meal for one another. The possibilities are endless. Another way to make your girlfriend or boyfriend’s day is to do something sweet and meaningful for them. Buy them flowers, write them a note, get them a sweet gift; use the holiday as an excuse to spoil each other. At James River specifically, there are carnations for sale that you can send to someone in order to benefit the Children’s hospital.

Keep in mind that Valentine’s day is not limited to romantic love. Everyone should make an effort to be especially kind and forgiving on February 14th. Call your grandma, tell your sister she looks pretty, tell your teacher or co-worker that you appreciate them. Love is such a strong emotion, it deserves to be shared. Consider volunteering at the food pantry, get together with your friends and bake cookies, do something to spread happiness. Turn this American obsession into a positive day for all.