Valentine’s Day: love before cynicism
By Zac Warner, Staff Writer
Valentine’s Day, February 14th. It is a day for people to come together; man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, lovers and friends. We come together to acknowledge the special significance that we have in each other’s lives. We give chocolates, flowers, jewelry, fine meals, kisses and hugs. It is a celebration of affection experienced all around the world.
The fascinating historical tradition dates back to the pagan Roman fertility feast of Lupercalia celebrated on Feb. 15. Catholics later adopted the festival to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine. The story of St. Valentine dates back to the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius in 269 A.D. Claudius believed that married men could not make courageous, dedicated soldiers because they were too attached to their families; so he forbade Roman soldiers from marrying. As the story goes, Bishop Valentine (later St. Valentine) disobeyed the emperor by marrying soldiers and was executed for violating the decree. According to legend, while Valentine was incarcerated awaiting his execution he fell in love with the blind daughter of the jailer and sent her a message signed “From your Valentine.” This dying expression of love gave birth to the phrase as we know it today.
In the 19th century Valentine’s Day underwent a transformation from a celebration of romantic love to a celebration of all graceful human relationships. Some who oppose the celebration argue that we should acknowledge and appreciate our relationships on all days, and I agree that we should. However, the truth is that humans are fallible beings that have bad days and get busy and occasionally forget. Valentine’s Day stands as a memorial. The one day that we are allowed to be extravagant in our appreciation without judgement (mostly). The day that we cannot help but remember the importance of our friends and lovers.
Still, others object that Valentine’s Day intensifies loneliness of single people. Should we not celebrate our relationships simply because it offends others? Maybe single people should reach out to their single friends and celebrate the special bonds that they have with each other. Or maybe the sufferers of loneliness should avert their eyes, or even take note of how Valentine’s treat one another.
Yet, others complain that Valentine’s Day is a consumerist holiday designed by card companies. To that I say, what if it is? Does that make the gestures and meaning of the holiday any less real? Does that make the feelings that result from them any less felt? No. If you do not agree with retail gifts, make your own card; it is cheap and much more meaningful. I promise you that those close to you will appreciate a homemade, sincere and personal message far more than any transient flowers, fattening chocolates, indulgent meals, expensive jewelry, or Hallmarks cards (not that there is anything wrong with these gifts!). Although, it is truly your words and feelings that will leave the greatest impact, touch the center of the heart, and make you their honest to goodness Valentine.
I love you, Gettysburg! Have a happy Valentine’s Day! Please, stop by Commons during the lunch hour the week of Valentine’s Day to send a note and Valentine’s bag of Truffle, Special Dark, and Milk Chocolate Hershey Kisses to the door of those who are special to you. Student swipe and cash accepted.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz