Valentine’s Day as told by a Valentine

As it’s the second day of February, I find it incredibly timely to comment on the holiday that’s just 12 days away. That’s right, my birthday! As it’s more commonly known as Valentine’s Day, the holiday lies on February 14 every year, and is internationally celebrated by billions around the world. As for myself, Valentine’s Day holds much more significance because it’s the celebration of my being another year older. Additionally, February highlights the transition to Aquarius birthdays, the Super Bowl, the carnival of Mardi Gras in Louisiana, Black History Month, and more obviously, colder temperatures.

More than often I’m asked how I feel about having my birthday on such a globally celebrated holiday that’s focused on buying boxes of chocolates for your lover. Well, the answer is plain and simple: I absolutely love having my birthday on Valentine’s Day! First of all, it’s not like I have any power over when my birthday is in the first place, so I’d be foolish not to embrace it! Second, every year I know that so many people around the world are just as excited as I am on that day, and that brings a special kind of solace to me. Once again I’ll be told, “wow, it’s going to be easy for your future husband to propose to you!” Yup, having a birthday on Valentine’s Day would probably outline a very predictable proposal of any sort. But that’s fine, and I love everything about it, cheesiness included.

My birthday aside, I’d like to focus on the societal expectations that come along with Valentine’s Day. I find myself wondering how people perceive the holiday, and how they find it more of an obligation than about celebrating love. I could bet that you’ve heard someone comment on how horrible it would be to break up with your significant other right before the holiday. Or how incredible it would be if the casual flirting you’ve been doing with the cute guy in your class would pay off in the form of a romantic, Valentine’s date. In many ways, the media are to blame for publicizing the holiday and making it much more about going above and beyond to impress than actually letting your significant other know how much they mean to you.

If you still don’t believe that the holiday has been transfixed into a marketing campaign, let these statistics do the talking. As you can see, with time Valentine’s Day has grown into a superficial holiday, where how much you spend on your significant other is expected to correlate with how much you care about them.

$13.19 billion in annual revenues
196 million roses produced
73% of bouquets are bought by men
180 million Valentine’s exchanged yearly

Though Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been what it’s thought to be. Have you ever read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar? If so, do you remember the celebration of the fertility feast called Lupercal? To give you some background, the festival entails both goat and dog sacrifices as offerings to the gods to ultimately make women more fertile. At the end of the festival, Rome’s most eligible bachelorettes would partake in a lottery to be matched with the city’s most eligible bachelors.

It seems that we can thank the innovative Romans for giving inspiration to the modern day Tinder concept. Well, Valentine’s Day originates back to that exact festival, except it wasn’t recognized until the 5th century when the Christian Pope Gelasius deemed February 14 as Valentine’s Day. The day marked the remembering of martyr St. Valentine until the 14th century in which the English poet, Chaucer, associated the holiday with love and romance. Nowadays, we celebrate the holiday for all that it represents: love, romance, candies, love notes, and secret Valentines.

Whether you’re a fan, or a cynic, Valentine’s Day is unavoidable. In my biased opinion, it’s the best holiday around, and, well, that’s because it’ll always be my birthday.

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