Love is in the air this week as the flowers are out and heart shaped balloons are floating for Valentine’s Day. For the holiday, some are planning to take their partner out to a nice dinner, while others will be celebrating the counter-holiday, Single Awareness Day or S.A.D. Either way, hearts will be stolen, and money will be spent.
While Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for years, it does not seem to be as widely emphasized in countries outside of the United States. According to nationalgeographic.com, in the U.S., about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. That figure, however, does not account for the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange each year. According to the National Retail Federation, the total spending for the holiday is expected to top $18.2 billion this year, which is an average of $136.57 per person.
The phenomenon of spending vast amounts of money on Valentine’s Day, however, is only a recent occurrence in history. In fact, the history of Valentine’s Day is quite different from the way it is modernly celebrated. Part of Roman tradition was the celebration of the feast of Lupercalia, which occurred from Feb. 13-15. This feast and celebration required men sacrifice a goat and a dog and whip women with the skin and pelts of the animals they had just slaughtered.
These rituals were practiced because it was believed that this would somehow secure a man’s fertility. In between one of these celebrations, on different occasions in 3rd century A.D., Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — and their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
These are two theories of the origins of Valentine’s Day, but in reality, there is no consensus on its true inception; however, one can trace the history of the way it is modernly celebrated. In the early 1800’s, there were love poems that were printed in England which became so popular that they began to be assembled in factories. After postal reforms and the invention of postage stamps, production and selling power of what eventually became Valentine’s Cards, increased on a massive scale.
Valentine’s Day is now celebrated in many different corners of the world, but many college students at UNCG are opting out and for very clear reasons.
Twenty-one-year-old UNCG student, Nora Bara, looked at me with disgust when I asked what she thought about Valentine’s Day. “I think it’s stupid,” she said. She went on to explain that the expression of love should not be limited to a specific day or time. Her reasoning behind this belief was that if you are in a relationship, then you should love your partner “unconditionally” all the time.
Her friend, 19-year-old UNCG student, Hannah Karlick, agrees with this sentiment. “There shouldn’t be a set date for it, you know? You should be showing your love every day.” Karlick went on to talk about the importance of showing love to the people you see in your everyday life without being needing a holiday to prompt this expression. “In this world, there is a lot of hate and we complain about it, yet we dedicate one day of 365 days to love,” said Karlick.
Nineteen-year-old UNCG student, Joaquin Pulgar, views Valentine’s Day from the perspective of a single person. “It’s more of a reminder for something that not everyone wants… It’s like ‘oh, here is a day to remind you that you have to find someone for the rest of your life.” Pulgar continued to list reasons why he believed that this is wrong, “First of all, you don’t need a reminder for that because not everyone wants that. Second, if you are already looking for someone, then you shouldn’t need a reminder.”
Some college students are rejecting the notion of love and relationships all together, and choose to view it as an example of the commercialization of holidays. “I think it’s a capitalist holiday that is used to pressure people into consumerism they cannot afford,” said Catalina Naveiro. “People use it to show their ‘love’ through monetary means, and forget about the sentiment that can be expressed daily for free.”
Needless to say, she won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day. “I prefer to celebrate Single Awareness Day,” said Naveiro.
For those that share similar sentiments as Naveiro, this Wednesday can be viewed as a time in which to save money on bar and restaurant discounts.
For some people this Valentine’s Day, flowers will be clutched that will then fill their trash cans come Friday. Some people will buy cards, chocolates and balloons to celebrate, while those celebrating Single Awareness Day will probably binge watch Netflix and eat Ben & Jerry’s. Others this Valentine’s Day may prefer a mixture of both; Netflix with their partner. Regardless of your intentions, let love fill the air at UNCG this holiday.