Be My Valentine or Not?

A Look at the History Behind This Ancient Holiday

It’s Valentine’s Day! What are you doing to celebrate? Cora Atkinson, a senior from Howard University, is traveling to New York City for an interview with a company that she hopes will hire her. That’s her idea of love and appreciation on the day that society has deemed Valentine’s Day. But Cora’s never been a fan of the day anyway, even when she had a boyfriend. She typically dresses in black as her own personal rebellion against a holiday she thinks is nothing but a fabrication of the Hallmark Corporation to con people into buying more cards, candy, and trinkets than they thought was possible for one day, supposedly seeking to show someone how much he or she means to that person.

And she’s not alone. While boyfriends are scrounging around desperately trying to find a last minute gift, trying to make last minute arrangements, or simply looking for that special person to call his “Valentine,” many will be pampering themselves or avoiding the day all together.

So what’s the significance of a day that many people do not recognize anyway? Is it another reason for women and girls around to get mad at their significant other if they don’t do anything for them? Or is it a chance to combine all the simple things couples do for each other into one day, to say “Baby, I know I may not say it a lot, but I appreciate you.”

According to www.historychannel.com, the origins of Valentine’s Day are filled with mystery and many fanciful stories about the man it is named after and how it began. What is known is that in ancient societies, February was always the month for romance, from the common belief in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of the birds mating season to the tradition of the ancient Roman lottery system of romantic pairing on the ideas of February. And the oldest known Valentine that is still in existence was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Yet, one legend has it that Valentine wrote the first Valentine greeting himself, to a young girl he fell in love with while he was in jail and signed it “From your Valentine.”

Today, however, the holiday has lost a lot of its appeal to commercialism, as most holidays have. According to the Greeting Card Association, Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, only behind Christmas, with an estimated one billion Valentine cards sent each year.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be a holiday of bitterness or of frivolous appreciation. It can be along the lines of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day (you don’t hear anyone begrudging those days). Not a day to show someone their appreciation, but instead a day that symbolizes how much you love someone and that you just want to take that day to show them. It can happen, it just takes us going back to the simple things and making those count.