What Is Valentine's Day And Why Does It Matter?
Valentine’s Day comes around just once each year and is a holiday that many look forward to celebrating. 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 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 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. Common symbols of friendship and love may be roses, hearts, cupids, arrows, and teddy bears. Most people see February 14 as a day to show love and care for one’s partner. They may go out of their way to convey their affection and want their significant other to know they are valued.
Although Valentine’s Day is technically a holiday, some people have mixed opinions about it. Many people feel that Valentine’s Day is only celebrated because of the pressure businesses create around the holiday. This isn’t necessarily hard to believe. If you go into any store in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, all you’ll likely 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 may be 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 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 likely 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. Likewise, lots of people enjoy being 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.
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. Some 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
As you can see, people can 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 might be important to consider the other person’s feelings if you’re in a relationship.
A Worldwide Celebration
Regardless of how Valentine’s Day came to be a holiday, it is generally 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 discreetly. Peruvians often exchange flowers, while some Germans gift pigs to one another. In Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is usually all about one’s friends rather than a romantic partner. Clearly, people worldwide 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 can help 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.
Find Healing With Regain
Valentine’s Day can be sentimental and exciting but can also stir up existing problems in a relationship. This may be 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 might be bringing you down. It can be hard not to fall into the trap of comparison.
Resources like online couples counseling can be a great way to unpack how you feel about Valentine’s Day and your relationship as a whole. You can easily join sessions from the comfort of home, and you can also choose to involve your partner, if you’d like.
Studies show that online therapy can truly benefit those who pursue it. One study found that 95% of couples who participated in online couples counseling considered it to be helpful. That means that no matter what your relationship concerns may be, it’s likely speaking to a counselor can make a difference.
Valentine’s Day is not a new holiday, nor is it one that is without controversy. Regardless of how you feel about the holiday, doing whatever you (and your partner) feel is best can be a totally acceptable way to celebrate. Maybe that means hearts and roses, or maybe it doesn’t – however you feel like expressing your love can work just fine.
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