What Is Valentine's Day And Why Does It Matter?

By Sydney Wiederhold|Updated March 25, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Valentine’s Day comes around just once each year and Valentine's day is a holiday that many look forward to celebrating. In the past, Valentine’s Day focused more on romantic couples, but Valentine's Day has now evolved to include singles as well. People buy and receive gifts for Valentine's day not only for their significant others but for friends, family members, teachers, coworkers, themselves, and more. While there can be a lot of tension and expectations surrounding Valentine's Day, it can also be a day of fun and excitement. Although many can agree on the basics of this day, there is less agreement about how much the holiday truly matters. Some couples go to great lengths to celebrate while others refuse to partake in any festivities and traditions at all. 

Valentine's day

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Although many can agree on the basics of Valentine’s Day, there is less agreement about how much the holiday truly matters. Some couples go to great lengths to celebrate while others refuse to partake in any festivities and traditions at all. Why are there such strong, even contrasting opinions about Valentine’s Day, and does this holiday really matter? We’ll be exploring these different perspectives, but ultimately only you can decide how much Valentine’s Day matters to you.

Valentine’s Day - What is it?

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that occurs on February 14 each year. It is not a nationally recognized holiday anywhere in the world, but is celebrated in most countries (some more than others, of course). In the United States alone, about 52% of adults will celebrate the holiday and in 2021 spent around $21.8 billion in total.

In general, Valentine’s Day is associated with gift-giving, romantic date nights, handwritten love letters, and other displays of affection. Red and pink are the most popular colors. Common symbols are roses, hearts, cupid, arrows, and teddy bears. Most people see February 14 as a day to show love and care for one’s partner. They go out of their way to convey their affection and want their significant other to know they are valued.

Public Opinion

Although Valentine’s Day is technically a holiday, some people have mixed opinions about it. For example, among adult Americans, 57% said that they think Valentine’s Day is only celebrated because of the pressure businesses create around the holiday. Just 28% think that February 14 holds a special meaning on its own and should be celebrated for that reason alone. This isn’t hard to believe. If you go into any store in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, all you’ll see are red and pink decorations, flower arrangements, and baskets of candy stacked to the brim. Turn on the TV or scroll through social media, and advertisements about this special day abound. It’s true, at the very least, that there is some type of societal pressure to make Valentine’s Day meaningful.

The History Of The Day

Valentine’s Day has a darker history than most people realize. The meaning it had long ago is much different from the one it carries now.

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the origins of the Day of Love, but most of these legends center around two men – both named Saint Valentine – as well as a pagan festival called Lupercalia.

Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine is an officially recognized saint in the Catholic Church. However, there may have been two different men with this name. One is said to have helped Christians escape persecution by ancient Romans, while the other is famous for helping young Christian couples wed in a time when this was outlawed by the empire.

Many centuries ago, a pagan festival called Lupercalia was held every year on February 13th through the 15th. During it, men would sacrifice goats and other types of animals and then turn their hides into blood-soaked strips. They’d then run around the town whipping women with the hides. If a woman was hit with one of them, they were said to be blessed with fertility.

It is said that the Catholic Church did not like how popular Lupercalia was, and so they declared February 14 a holiday in honor of martyred Saint Valentine. This effectively ended Lupercalia and started the tradition known as Valentine’s Day. Most don’t realize the dark history behind February 14, especially because the meaning today has evolved so much. Few would guess that a day of love, affection, and kindness was once associated with bloodshed, sacrifice, and martyrdom.

Does Valentine’s Day Matter?

You may be asking yourself if this holiday really carries any true meaning. In other words, does it matter? The truth is that Valentine’s Day can matter as much or as little as you’d like it to. Many people enjoy celebrating this holiday because it makes them feel good. They may like showing affection and making their significant other feel loved. They may enjoy being loved and cared for in return and reminded of how special they are to another person. Some people just like any reason to have a good time and will celebrate no matter the occasion.

Valentine

On the other hand, there are many people who don’t assign any meaning at all to Valentine’s Day, even if they celebrate it. These people might feel like it’s a societal construct or that it’s cheesy. There is a large group of people who believe Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be celebrated at all because people should treat their partners with that type of admiration every day.

A World Of Opinions

Furthermore, people differ in how strong their opinions are toward Valentine’s Day. Some are adamant about celebrating, others reluctantly go out on fancy dates and buy gifts. Others simply refuse to celebrate at all. While it’s okay to feel however you may feel about Valentine’s Day, it’s important to consider the other person’s feelings if you’re in a relationship.

Should you celebrate?

If one partner cares more about the holiday, move in their direction and compromise with them. You would likely appreciate it if you were in their shoes. Compromise often has a negative connotation associated with it, but that’s what helps provide sound building blocks in relationships – communication and compromise.

A Worldwide Celebration

Regardless of how Valentine’s Day came to be a holiday, it is celebrated all over the world. Countries that take part have their own traditions and customs, and some take them more seriously than others. While it might seem like just an American holiday, nothing could be further from the truth.

Around the World

Consider the fact that in the Philippines, February 14 is the most popular day to get married and renew one’s wedding vows. In El Salvador, locals put a spin on Secret Santa and draw a Secret Friend from a hat of names on Valentine’s Day. They then buy gifts for their Secret Friend anonymously. Peruvians exchange flowers, while some Germans gift pigs to one another. In Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is all about one’s friends rather than a romantic partner. Clearly, people all around the world have assigned meaning to Valentine’s Day, which can vary a lot from country to country.

Valentine's Day Is Here To Stay

Valentine’s Day has stood the test of time and remained a tradition for centuries now. It’s not likely that it’s going away anytime soon. Even if you don’t personally feel that Valentine’s Day matters, remember that there are plenty of people who do, and there is cultural and historical significance behind it. This not only includes people in your own inner circle and country, but all around the world. Not everything that matters to one person is going to matter to everyone, but it helps to be sensitive to the fact that everyone has different, sometimes strong, opinions of February 14. Keeping that in mind can help you navigate the holiday each year and interact with those around you in a way that honors everyone’s feelings and opinions, including your own.

Making Valentine's Day A Year-Round Phenomenon

There can be a lot of pressure on February 14, which is why the best solution may be to treat every day (or at least more days) as if it were Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t mean you have to go all out and buy extravagant gifts and go on fancy dates all the time; just that you show love and affection more often. If you are saving up all your love for one day out of the year, there might start to be resentment in your relationship. Valentine’s Day can feel fake if you act like a completely different person on that one day out of the year.

Celebrating Love Daily

Things that may be more exciting for a relationship is picking random days throughout the year to spontaneously celebrate one another. Together, you and your partner can make multiple days special each year. So, while loving one another well should be an everyday occurrence, don’t be afraid to go above and beyond on more days than just February 14 alone.

Find Healing With ReGain

Valentine’s Day can be sentimental and exciting but can also stir up existing problems in a relationship. This is especially true if one partner expects more out of the day than the other does. Watching other couples celebrate the holiday in extravagant ways can also be hard to watch when your own relationship has problems. It can be hard not to fall into the trap of comparison.

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Conclusion

Whether you are going through something difficult in your personal life or would like to receive couples therapy, ReGain is here to help. Our online counseling platform is easy to use and a convenient way to receive therapy on your own time. You can use your phone, a tablet, or your laptop to speak with a qualified therapist, who you’ll be matched with within 24 hours of signing up on the site. Online therapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy. So, if you find yourself running on a busy schedule but needing mental health assistance, ReGain could be the perfect option for you. Reach out today to get started!

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