Mikaela Van Soelen—Staff Writer
In the gloom and grey of winter, one holiday rises out of the misty fog in bright pinks and reds. Valentine’s Day is on its way, whether you are a fan of candy hearts or not. This holiday racks up around 20.7 billion dollars a year, while ironically, most people don’t know what it’s all about.
We may have learned about Saint Valentine from our third-grade teachers as we cut out paper hearts and wrote what we loved about our moms, dads, and dogs, but it’s impossible to say we retained everything. Now most people roll their eyes at Valentine’s, ignore it, or use it to post old pictures of their wedding from five years ago. So, the question to ask is why are we celebrating?
Historians cannot conclusively speak on why we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Saint Valentine himself was shrouded in mystery. What’s even more confusing is that historians suggest there might even be more than one man named Valentine. Whatever the number of Mr. Valentines there was, they all were beheaded by Roman Emperor Claudius II. So, when you hand your boo a box of chocolates this Sunday, remember you’re celebrating someone’s head getting caboshed.
There are two main theories to as why St. Valentine was killed. One claims he was a Christian priest performing marriages for young lovers in secret. Claudius II wanted all young men to abstain from marriage so they could be soldiers, but St. Valentine kept officiating weddings in secret. Picture that: a fourth-century wedding COVID-19 style.
The second theory is that St. Valentine fell in love with his jailor’s daughter while in prison, and wrote her love letters addressed, “from your Valentine”. Nothing says romance more than a love letter from an inmate. You can choose whichever story pulls your heart strings the most, but remember both end in a lost head. Yet there is one more historical version of St. Valentine’s day that I find resonates most with our campus.
For pagans, February was a season known as the time for the festival Lupercalia, which was later practiced to a similar extent in medieval Scotland and England. This event included a custom where young women cast their names into a cauldron while wearing goat hides for clothes. The bachelors of the town would come draw a name and choose their maiden for the year. And we thought ring before spring was pushing it. Are we all living in a big Christian cauldron? It’s pretty thought provoking if you ask me.
Valentine’s Day is like an assignment you know you need to get done but you wait until last minute because you are not entirely sure what to do or how to feel about it. Perhaps I am the only one in the winter blues with some cynicism going on around this weekend’s overly sentimental holiday. Whatever it may be, Valentine’s is here and now at least we can all know what we are celebrating.
Whether you are single, dating, married, or my personal favorite: “never making eye contact in public because we are just talking”, try to find a way to experience love for yourself or the special people in your life this weekend.
If that means wrapping yourself up in a blanket burrito and watching some Netflix, do it. If you want to throw a Galantine’s day celebration, enjoy time with your friends. Just remember Galantine’s is just an excuse to eat chocolate covered strawberries with your friends, not a form of feminism. Maybe you will opt for some Walmart clearance chocolate on February 15 while listening to Phoebe Bridgers—also in a blanket burrito. No matter what, I suggest a blanket burrito. Enjoy your holiday and remember the chocolate you eat on Sunday is all thanks to a guy who got his head chopped off for love.