It is almost that day of the year where the roses get too expensive and stale chocolate is everywhere. Everything gets decorated pink and people buy cards that say: “oh honeybun I love you so much my little biscuit”.
You might have already guessed it from those first few lines, but I do not like Valentine’s day that much. Sure, it is nice if my boyfriend tells me he loves me but he can do that any other regular day too. I think Valentine’s day nowadays is just about buying, buying, buying and if a man- or woman- does not empty out their pockets for their significant other they are a bad boy-/girlfriend or husband or significant other, as you will. If that is love – the buying of gifts when capitalism says you have to because society says so- then I don’t want it. Love is much more than just giving me cheap chocolate I don’t even like and bringing me overpriced flowers. No, I prefer the ‘Hey! Let’s watch that pirate series in our pyjamas because we want to and not because it happens to be valentine’s day”.
So, instead of writing about how amazing it is to be in love and what kinds of presents I hope to get, I would like to explain to you a little bit about where Valentine’s day came from. Maybe its history will make you think differently about it.
After doing a bit of reading on the internet I found out that the history behind Valentine’s day is not as rosy as we might think. No, it is much bloodier and more violent than you might expect. I found this website and it says that the origins of Valentine’s day are not really clear. They do start at Rome, so that’s where I will start as well. I quote: “From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain”, right… and it gets weirder: “Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile”…erm, okay…and the last one: ” The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right”. So, you’re trying to tell me the origins of Valentine’s day stems from crazy naked Roman people doing strange rituals like drawing a name from a lottery and then whipping women? Sounds eh, wonderful and a lot like we do it nowadays.
A different story about the origins of Valentine’s day comes from the ancient Romans as well. Their emperor Claudius II ordered to have two men named Valentine executed on February 14th. Later in the 3rd century A.D., the Catholic Church honoured these two men by making February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius combined the pagan ritual of Lupercalia and St. Valentines day to get rid of paganism. This is what made it more theatrical and a little step in the way we celebrate it today. It still was more of a day to just get drunk as well as a day about fertility and love.
The ones really responsible for making it a holiday about paper cards and gifts were people like William Shakespeare. They romanticised the holiday and made it sweeter and all about finding love. But! The biggest reason why we have this materialised version of the holiday today is the year 1913. It was then that Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., mass-produced valentine’s day cards, causing the holiday to set course towards the form it has today.
Reading all this still makes me wonder why we have to bring truckloads of heart-shaped things and expensive flower bouquets to honour our loved ones. If anything, this all stems from a ritual about matchmaking and promoting fertility, not about capitalist people trying to make us feel guilty if we don’t spend every single penny we have on their red and pink coloured sh*t.
Well, now I know its history I appreciate the day, but I am still not going to celebrate it. Maybe I’ll text my boyfriend wishing him a happy Valentine’s day and tell him I love him. But that is going to be it.
After all, Valentine’s day was not intended to be about stuff, but about love, right?
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed my different take on writing about Valentine’s day and I really hope you don’t think of me as a sour person now. Don’t get me wrong. If anyone were to give me anything on the day itself, I would be flattered. I just make the choice not to celebrate it myself.Oh, and please don’t forget to check out my Instagram page as well!
Lots of Love,
Source: Seipel, Arnie. “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day”, https://www.npr.org, 13 February 2011, https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day?t=1548779001975