I have never had a Valentine. I have never been a Valentine. And yet, every year, the nefarious holiday seems to creep back into my scheduling planner, and I think to myself, “Okay, so what?” I mean, for someone like me, what are you supposed to think about when QFC begins throwing up heart-shaped balloons and Safeway overflows with those singing cutout love cards? Don’t get me wrong, I would eat Sweethearts all Valentine’s Day if I could keep them down. Those little bite-sized hearts are like love in a box; but for your tongue, not your romance life or anything.
What is V-Day for anyways? Over one thousand years ago it may have made sense. At the end of the Roman Empire’s golden age, Emperor Claudius the Second, desperate to protect his land from take-over, sought to make every man in his nation a ‘good quality’ soldier.
Believing soldier’s who were married were too connected to families and wives, he made marriage illegal, causing shock and grief to run through lovers everywhere. But a martyr named St. Valentine saw through Claudius’s injustice, and held marriages in secret for countless couples. When he was found out he was imprisoned, and while preparing for death, fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. He wrote her a letter before his sentence, and signed it “From Your Valentine”, three words that resounded through history. In 270 A.D., Valentine’s Day may have had significant meaning, but today, there’s a saying that goes, ‘a man’s love is only as big as the diamond he gives his wife.’
Talk about conceit, but maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to comment, considering I’m one of the apparently rare women who hates diamonds. Society has warped the true meaning behind Valentine’s last letter of love, and now the anniversary of his death, Feb. 14, is seen as a day for nothing but gifts, gifts, and gifts.
Now, Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the globe. The entire world seems to have tweeked the true meaning of this wide-spread holiday.
Take France for instance, which used to celebrate a custom known as “drawing for,” where unmarried townspeople split into two groups, and each group enters two houses that face one another. People begin to call out the names of someone of the opposite sex they know out the window, effectively choosing their dates for the day.
If the man doesn’t like his date, he ditches her. At the end of the day, there is a bonfire for all the ladies who were ditched to throw images of the scoundrels into the fire, and curse and yell out into the open night air. As you can imagine, this got banned for holding the risk of conflict between townsfolk. If this isn’t a distortion of Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what is.
Japan and Korea have kept the idea of love pinned to Valentine’s special day, however. On Feb. 14 in Japan, girls give gifts to the boys they like. Seeing store bought chocolates as a mark of fake love, they usually spend hours baking their own. On Mar. 14, or “White Day,” the boys give the gift they received or a different gift back to the girl either as a sign of love or a confession.
In Korea, after Valentine’s Day and White day, there is also a third holiday on April 14 called “Black Day,” where all the people who received no gifts went with friends to eat black noodles together. I guess if you don’t have lovers’ love, at least you’ve got the love of friendship.
While America uses Valentine’s Day to hood-wink males into purchasing $3000 diamond accessories, France almost banned the holiday, and other countries give their own ‘gifts of romance’. I stand committed to be uncommitted. Why would I want to have one day a year where someone close to me shows their respect or thought by throwing candies at me—especially given the fact I hate chocolate and caramel (I was born to write this article)—instead of kicking it old school and showing love when it comes my way? Or instead of purchasing a diamond studded grill to shut your wife up, how about giving her flowers once in a while. Or making your husband’s favorite dish just because?
Being a part of the minority, someone who doesn’t date, either from focus on studies or otherwise, Valentine’s Day is just an excuse to buy some heart-shaped Uncle Seth’s cookies whenever I feel like it because “it’s the month of love”. Well, who knows? One day it could make sense.