Every February, in many countries across the world, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones on Valentine’s Day. But why do we do that, and how did it even come about? There are many stories about how Valentine's Day started. St. Valentine was a priest in the 3rd century who performed secret marriages when the Roman Emperor Claudius II thought soldiers who were single were more likely to enlist in the army. St. Valentine was caught and killed on February 14th. It is believed he was responsible for giving the jailer's blind daughter back her eyesight, and before his execution, he sent her a note saying, "From your Valentine." The phrase is still widely used on Valentine’s Day today.
What is the true beginning? No one knows for sure, but what some people think is that St. Valentine's Day originated in Rome in 496 A.D. The women would write love letters and place them in a urn. The men would pick a letter from the urn and court the woman whose letter they chose. This lasted until the 1700s when people decided their sweethearts should be chosen by themselves, not an urn. Pope Gelasius decided to put a Christian spin on this ceremony by saying that it was to honor St. Valentine. An interesting fact is that the crocus is the traditional flower of St. Valentine, not the rose.
Valentine’s Day is a day of love, friendship and family. It’s a day when you can be brutally honest about your feelings for someone and take that leap; when you’re able to admire and respect the people that you are closest to; a day of thankfulness, laughter and fun. But it is also a day that causes so much grief and distress among some people who feel like they will never be loved. According to an Iposos Mori poll taken in 2000, nearly 62% of Americans with sweethearts will celebrate Valentine’s Day by spending more than $13 billion dollars in romantic gifts in the United States. And over two-fifths of single people feel negative or indifferent towards V Day.
Since 2010 February has also been recognized as Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Prevention and Awareness Month. Because of embarrassment and fear more than half of teens do not report TDV when it happens to them. Also, 53 percent of high school students report dating violence among their friends. Unfortunately, one in five teen girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. I think that some girls feel pressure to have a partner which can potentially cause them to settle with an unhealthy relationship. If you are in an unhealthy relationship there is help out there. You can check out: Love is Respect and Youth Eastside Services, a local organization that helps children and teens.
On a lighter note – Valentine’s Day is a brilliant holiday to celebrate love, friendship and respect. And even if your Valentine’s Day looks like sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and watching the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother, I really hope you have a great time. Happy Valentine’s Day!