A love hate relationship

Whether you love it or love to hate it, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. Bemoaned by many as a “commercial holiday,” an estimated one billion cards are sent each year, making it the second largest card-sending holiday (second to Christmas: 2.6 billion), according to the Greeting Card Association.

However, it’s in the air as to how many St. John’s students will be in the “holiday spirit.”

“I don’t consider it a real holiday,” said Bora Lee, a freshman Physician Assistant major.

Junior Keith Arias has similar qualms with the notorious Feb. 14. “You have 364 other days to show your love.”

When asked how he was spending his Valentine’s Day, Arias said, “One word: alone.”

Valentine’s Day can make those without significant others feel ostracized or like salt poured onto open wounds.

“It makes you feel lame if you don’t have someone to spend it with,” said Tiffanie Taylor, a freshman Pharmacy major.

Still there are some students at St. John’s that, whether single or taken, embrace the idea of celebrating love.

“Even though I’m single,” said Gerard Miller, a French and Spanish major, “and I haven’t found that deep connection, I appreciate the one day in which people are reminded of the love of God and the love of our brothers.”

Freshman Andrea Bonilla enjoys the giving and receiving of sentimental gifts. “It’s nice to show your affection for someone by doing something nice or buying something for someone you love.”

“It’s a joyous day,” said Jide Sunmola, an accounting major, with a smile. (It probably helps that he has a date planned for Thursday).

Whether or not these students have plans for their Valentine’s Day (many have a date with classes and lab), the one thing that everyone shared was a general unfamiliarity with the actual history of Valentine’s Day.
That’s right: it has a history beyond those Care Bear “I love you beary much” cards and candy hearts.

The holiday, which actually contains vestiges of both Christian and Roman traditions, is celebrated because of the selfless actions of at least three saints named Valentine or Valentinus, recognized by the Catholic Church, all of whom were martyred.

According to one legend, St. Valentine was a priest in ancient Rome during the third century. Emperor Claudius II, who wanted to bolster his army, realized that single men made better soldiers than those with a wife and children. Claudius then outlawed marriage. Valentine defied him by marrying young lovers in secret. When he was discovered by authorities, he was sentenced to death.

So why the popularity of cards? Valentine sent a love letter to a young woman before his death and signed it “From your Valentine.” It caught on.

By the middle of the eighteenth century in Great Britain, lovers and friends commonly exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, ready made printed cards replaced written notes thanks to improvements in printing technology. Americans probably caught the card craze in the early 1700s.
And Cupid?

In Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus and in Greek mythology, it’s Eros and Aphrodite, respectively.

“Whether its pagan or Christian,” said theology professor Peter Amato, “I think people should enjoy it as a time to celebrate the gift of love. Because the origin of love is God’s love that radiates to us.”