Can you really have a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day?’

Flowers seem to “magically” bloom in the middle of the snow season. Dentists are preparing for a big boom in business. And many become desperate for someone to call their own. This could mean only one thing: V-Day is here, happily embraced by warm, loving arms or spitefully shoved under the rug for another 365 days.

Although many opinions have come to light about the origin of the holiday, the most popular explanation lies with the story of St. Valentine, a Roman who was killed, and thus martyred, for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on Feb. 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries, a custom of name drawing for young people.

On the eve of the day’s festivities, the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and mixed in opaque jars. Each young man would draw a girl’s name and become her partner for the duration of the festival. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year and, often, they would fall in love and later marry.

This myth also holds that St. Valentine left a farewell note for his jailer’s daughter on the day of his execution; the girl had become his friend. Valentine signed the letter “From Your Valentine.”

In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside Feb. 14 in honor of St. Valentine. Soon the day became known as the time to exchange love letters, and St. Valentine was officially named the patron saint of lovers. There was usually a ball or some sort of social gathering and simple gifts, such as poems and flowers were given to the object of one’s affection.

With such noble beginnings for such a special day, one must wonder how a beautiful day of love that was once marked as a time for giving simple, yet equally affectionate, tokens could turn into a mere “Hallmark Holiday.” Many claim that the times are a-changin’, blaming the ever-transforming sentiments of the holiday on the world’s increasing sense of materialism. Oodles of money are spent, nearly as much as during the Christmas season, in showing a significant other that you care and just how much.

Billy Herr, a sophomore who is currently single, is not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. “I think it’s a broken holiday used to make money and to bring down the spirits of those without significant others, which is a majority of the country. The only thing I see on that day is people buying cards and chocolate. There is hardly any real love. Everyone is just looking for some action.”

Herr’s V-Day point of view may seem a bit cold, cynical and honestly, very much like a typical guy. However, he is not the only member of the Anti-Capitalism Lonely Hearts Club; Herr’s opinion is shared by freshman Melissa Wade, a single young woman who despises Valentine’s Day just as much, if not more, than Herr.

“I think that Valentine’s Day is extremely overrated, and it’s just a day for all card stores and people to make money,” Wade said. “It can be special if you’re with someone, but if you’re not it just makes you feel bad.”

However dreary Herr and Wade’s outlook on Valentine’s Day may be, their opinions do hold a bit of water, according to Market and Opinion Research International.

Founded in 1969, MORI is the largest, independently owned social research company in the United Kingdom. Results from its Social Research Institute’s survey found that almost one in 10 people under the age of 25 have negative feelings towards Valentine’s Day.

But there are still warm, fuzzy feelings towards Valentine’s Day in the world. There are still plenty of people who regard the day as sweet, loving and filled with happiness.

Alex Cortes, a romantically unattached junior, says, “I feel that it’s a great thing that we have at least one day out of the year that people get together as boyfriend and girlfriend or significant other. It’s just a time for them to share.”

Freshman Sarah Kirkwood, who currently has a boyfriend, agrees. “Valentine’s Day is a time to let people know that you appreciate them and that you love them. Whether you have a boyfriend, best friend, or family, you just want them to know that you have love and you want them to know that you appreciate everything that they do for you.”

One may say that it is easy to be in love with love when a person is involved in a romantic relationship. But when the tables are turned, and you are on the receiving end of a nasty break-up, your true V-Day character is revealed. It becomes a question of do you, or can you, remain as gung-ho about a holiday “for lovers only.”

Some will readily admit that their jaded perspective is due to the fact that they are single; Wade is one of these people. However, she also adds, “On the other hand, I’m not a mushy person, so flowers, candy, and all that stuff is just spending money to me.” Although currently involved in a romantic relationship, sophomore Maria Feister admits to thinking along the same lines as Wade.

Feister has been seriously dating her boyfriend since September of last year. Because the couple wanted to spend their first Valentine’s Day together, Feister’s boyfriend is flying her to Florida to be with him.

Although Feister is excited about her V-Day rendezvous in the “Sunshine State,” she admits that had she been forced to spend Valentine’s Day without a valentine, her opinion of the holiday would completely change. She says, “If you’re single, Valentine’s Day is really just not a fun holiday. I have been single on Valentine’s Day before, and it was depressing.”

Although a dying breed, die-hard romantics are still alive. Despite their marital status or the commercialism surrounding Valentine’s Day, many people pledge that they will always be supporters and contributors to the holiday. Newly single freshman, Treva Babb says, “Despite whatever I may be going through with my relationships, I feel that love is kind, and love is beautiful. It’s still Valentine’s Day, and it’s not going to change because I’m having a bad time.”

Cortes will also remain a buff for V-Day. When asked if his perception on Valentine’s Day would change if he were in a romantic relationship and if he were, in a sense, obligated to perform his “boyfriendly duties” on the holiday, he says he would still feel the same. “I would do what I had to do, but it wouldn’t change. I would still feel the same way as I do now if I had a girlfriend.”

But some people will always be “down” with Valentine’s Day-people like Herr. “It has nothing to do with me being single. When I had my girlfriend, I noticed that I started to follow the same frame of mind because everything around me was promoting that idea.”

However you feel about Valentine’s Day, you should remember that it is a day on which you show the special people in your lives that you care, but should not be limited as the only day; as corny as it may sound, try to make Valentine’s Day everyday. A peck on the cheek or a warm embrace can go a lot farther than a 10-pound chocolate heart or a dozen red roses.

And remember that everyone should celebrate V-Day. Whether you are involved in a romantic relationship or not, you will always have someone to love: yourself. And that is the greatest love of all.